Chafford Gorges Nature Discovery Park
Habitat Protection through scrub clearance
National Highways’ Lower Thames Crossing project has invested £94,000 with Essex Wildlife Trust to protect priority habitats across Chafford Gorges in Essex.
Chafford Gorges Nature Park is a 200-acre nature reserve located in Chafford Hundred managed by Essex Wildlife Trust. It includes lakes, meadows and woodland, and also two Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Priority habitats are home to creatures such as slow worm, adder, grass snake and common lizard. These protected species are important for conserving biodiversity, which is essential for the processes that support all life on Earth.
What’s been funded?
- Warren Gorge – scrub removal on biodiverse islands including invasive silver birch and willow, as well as buddleia plants from the lake
- Pump Meadows -removal of invasive Buddleia and bramble from the remainder of the pump meadows, to protect the priority habitat calcareous grasslands. Buddleia stumps will be treated with eco-plugs
- Wouldham Lower - removal of invasive Buddleia scrub from the base of the cliff, which is a scrub and woodland area leading to a cycle path. Wouldham Cliffs is a calcareous grassland meadow atop chalk cliffs
- Thames Hill View - scrub and small trees removed and habitat piles added to create a corridor on the east side for badgers, birds. On the west side, a corridor will be created for reptiles and key invertebrates
"This funding has allowed vital large-scale habitat management projects to happen at one of our most biodiverse nature reserves. The clearing of the islands will provide rare orchids found on these with more space to grow and expand. This will also increase the resilience of the site and the species found in this special environment."Ruth Angrave, Nature Reserves Manager (South) for Essex Wildlife Trust
The Lower Thames Crossing team recently volunteered at Chafford Gorges, providing 112 hours of volunteering. The team clipped branches and used a chipper, lopper and saws to chop some of the smaller trees. This helped to help clear the areas of scrubland which had grown into their grasslands, to help to create wildflower meadows.
At least 22, 000 hours of volunteering have also been pledged to support local initiatives along the route of Lower Thames Crossing. Everyone working on the Lower Thames Crossing project will be encouraged to participate in a volunteering activity, with the aim of every single person involved in the project dedicating time to a local cause.