Restoring Habitats for Butterfly Conservation

28th June 2021
BY Alex Forsyth, Printmaking Don

Promoting Biodiversity

It has been good to be back on site at Magdalen Hill nature reserve with pupils this term, as part of our Community Service programme. Working in support of the Butterfly Conservation organisation, pupils add many valuable hours to help maintain this special chalk downland.

Butterfly Conservation aims to conserve landscapes, and restore habitat, to promote biodiversity and support insect populations. Winchester College pupils have been working for three years in conjunction with the organisation's own team of dedicated volunteers.

Each week wayward brambles have been kept at bay, stiles and gates cleared of determined weeds, the occasional rusted gate removed. Bramble-busting has been a routine and essential job at the site to keep access points and pathways clear, but there have been some ambitious projects too. Over two terms, pupils worked extremely hard to dig out and construct a pond and much effort was put into gathering materials to create a natural and varied area around its perimeter. Further constructions include a reptile hibernaculum and a bug hotel.

Traditional Skills

During the Autumn months, pupils have the opportunity to learn and put into practise the tradition of hedgelaying. Specialised tools are used to splice, bend, stake, and weave hedge stems into one continuous hedgerow to create a dense natural barrier to provide essential habitats and corridors for a variety of wildlife on the reserve.

A long-term partnership

By visiting weekly, Winchester College pupils contribute to the important and extensive work the Butterfly Conservation undertakes to manage and maintain Magdalen Hill nature reserve.

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