Wildlife and habitats
Lickey End Play Area is surrounded by a wealth of wildlife habitats, including for a population of endangered water voles. Here are some of the highlights.
'Habitat Management Plan'
We created a stand alone plan for the park to identify specific criteria and management requirements and responsibilities relating to the water vole.
The existing Brook course supports a breeding water vole population and ongoing light and targeted maintenance is required to prevent decline of the habitat condition. A number of opportunities also exist for both small and large-scale habitat enhancement to enable the site to support a stronger breeding population of water voles and we are exploring these, subject to the availability of funding and other resources.
We review the grass cutting regime in the park to ensure we manage the site sustainably. Maintenance can be relaxed to provide beneficial habitat. The sandy acid soils of the site will facilitate the creation of linked grassland and meadow areas to help support reptiles, small mammals and invertebrate populations.
Carried out in November 2010 the ‘Midland’ style hedge has supported the sustainability of the important wildlife habitat along the brook course. The denser and more compact hedgerow which results from the laying will provide an improved habitat for birds and small mammals while the reduced shading effect on the adjacent bank side of the Brook will encourage the growth of aquatic plants which provide a food source and improved habitat for water voles. This work has also successfully reduced the shading along the watercourse habitat.
When these works were being done we arranged for our own staff to be on site learning the skills involved, so we could carry out similar works across our other sites.
Wetland Reserve Area
In Spring 2009, in partnership with the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency we created a small wetland area to improve the habitat for the water vole population. This was supported with interpretation signage for visitors and a small viewing platform. This wetland area increased the total amount of habitat by approximately 50% and is of far higher quality than previously existed.
Surveys carried out prior to the enhancement works and once the habitat had matured 12 months later have proved the success of the works, finding a 400% increase in water vole presence. In particular, the nature and distribution of the survey results indicate that the combination of more and higher quality of new habitat is able to support a far higher breeding population.
In 2000 we created a native woodland area to the southern aspect of the site, this has created a densely populated area in need of substantial thinning and coppicing. It is our aim to use this need as an opportunity to works with local volunteers and community groups. Further works planned with local schools and clubs. The woodland mainly comprises of oak, ash, beech, Scots pine, hawthorn, blackthorn, birch and alder.
Then in 2011 we planted local Worcestershire fruit trees alongside the eastern boundary of the site to improve the woodland habitat links across the site. In addition to the fruit trees, an avenue of liquid amber was planted around the fenced-off changing pavilion to improve woodland links, and the aesthetics of the site in general.