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Lowland healthland restoration reaps rewards - New Forest National Park Authority

A new stronghold for the nightjar and other wildlife has been established in the north of the New Forest thanks to the total transformation of a commercial tree plantation.

A diverse landscape of rare lowland heathland, woodland and wetland has been created at Foxbury, a 350-acre site acquired by the National Trust.

Foxbury is the largest project in the New Forest National Park Authority’s £4.4m landscape partnership scheme Our Past, Our Future, which is backed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Restoration work has included removing invasive species such as pine and rhododendron – allowing native trees, wildflowers and shrubs to re-establish – as well as planting 18,000 trees with the help of volunteers.

The result has been a huge increase in wildlife from birds to butterflies.

Jacob White, the National Trust’s area ranger, said: ‘Foxbury now has one of the densest nightjar populations in the New Forest with 27 churring males identified in recent surveys. Breeding Dartford warbler and woodlark have also been noted. In 2006 when Foxbury was still a plantation, the bird surveys consistently found around 12 species of bird on the site. Now, 106 species of bird have been identified at Foxbury.’

Further studies have identified 26 species of butterfly, including heathland specialist the silver-studded blue, 12 species of bat and over 17 species of dragonfly and damselfly.

Posted on: 19 March 2020

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