New habitats have been created at a country park in Oulton Broad to help reptiles which may need to be relocated from a nearby housing development.
Ahead of the next phase of Persimmon’s housing development at Woods Meadow in Oulton Broad, East Suffolk Services Ltd have helped create new homes at Woods Meadow Country Park for reptiles and amphibians which will be relocated from the construction site.
Working alongside Persimmon and ecologists, a team from East Suffolk Services Ltd have constructed artificial habitats, known as ‘hibernacula’,which will provide reptiles and amphibians with a safe place to overwinter, bask and feed and will increase the biodiversity of the country park.
Woods Meadow Country Park, owned by East Suffolk Council, was created in 2019 to provide a welcoming and informal green space for local people to enjoy and which benefits their physical and mental wellbeing. Earlier this year, the park was awarded a Green Flag for the first time.
Cllr Rachel Smith-Lyte, East Suffolk’s cabinet member for the Environment said: “Woods Meadow Country Park was created for the benefit of both wildlife and people living nearby with a wonderful green space to enjoy, as well as offering opportunities for learning and volunteering. The new hibernacula will help mitigate the habitat loss caused by the housing development and will help the country park continue to meet its objectives of providing a home for wildlife. These habitats will also enable visitors to the park to learn more about reptiles and amphibians."
One of the shelters comprises a log pile placed on top ofrubble and covered with subsoil. This will eventually become overgrown and provide an excellent place for reptiles and amphibians to overwinter andto catch the sun to allow reptiles to bask.
The other two habitat constructions consistof piles of rubble topped with a thick layer of subsoil. In the depths of these, and under the layers of soil, cold-bloodedreptiles and amphibians will be able to keep warm during their autumn and winter hibernation. In the summer, the south-facing side will offer a place to bask and hide from predators.
Each of the hibernacula were placed in locations deemed to have maximum habitat suitability for reptiles. For example, two were placed in the scrub area, which is an overgrown refuge providing shelter, food and safety for wildlife.
Located next to the Broads National Park, Woods Meadow is a 19.7-hectare site with a wildflower meadow, protected trees and seven English Oaks which were planted in 2022 to commemorate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Planting began last year on a 5.8-hectare mixed native woodland whilst a restricted area known as the Hay Field provides a haven for ground nesting birds, especially skylarks. This fully enclosed area is reopened to visitors during the winter and serves as a safe area for dogs to be exercised off the lead.