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Wittering Area Community Conservation Project Update

By Louise Barnetson

West Itchenor Pond and wetland site - home to water voles and many species of bird.

The Wittering Area Community Conservation Project has now been running for two years, with one more year to go. The project is funded by the Woodger Trust to work across West Wittering, East Wittering, Bracklesham, Earnley, West Itchenor and Birdham and enables us to work in these parishes to improve wildlife habitat, flood management, provide community engagement activities, and to promote community and personal well-being through engagement with nature.

In those two years, we have:

  • Held over 100 volunteer sessions where we have looked after, created, and improved habitat for wildlife, including tree planting and wildflower sowing. This has involved lots of lovely local volunteers as well as many corporate groups from companies such as WSP, Radiometer, Wiley, Nationwide, AbbVie, and Carpenter Box. Some recent photos can be seen here:

West Itchenor Pond in November 2023 - clearing debris to improve the flow and prevent flooding.
Hilton Business Park Pond, E. Wittering in November 2023 - coppicing willow to allow more light into the pond.
Holly House Pond, Earnley in November 2023 - cutting back willow and bramble to reveal this neglected pond.
Birdham recreation ground in November 2023 - hardly volunteers from WSP sowing seeds on a new bee & butterfly friendly bank.
  • We have held talks and presentations to local groups about our work and local wildlife, including the Witterings Camera Club and Chichester Natural History Society.

  • We have held mass tree planting events with children and families from local uniformed groups.

  • We have attended local fetes and fairs, and even held our own, totally free, family wildlife activity day at St James Church, Birdham.

  • We have run our Wildlife Warriors after-school club at the primary schools in Birdham, East Wittering, and West Wittering.

Pond dipping at Birdham Primary School - we caught some newts!
  • We have hosted regular sessions with children at the local Beavers, Cubs & Scouts groups, and at Brownies & Guides, getting the children involved with pond-dipping, tree seed planting, and making bird feeders among other activities.

Planting acorns with Scouts in Birdham in November 2023.
  • Provided fun, hands-on, messy tree seeds sessions for nursery school children in East Wittering and Bracklesham.

  • Supported our West Wittering Tree Nursery, growing hundreds of trees from locally-sourced tree seed.

  • Provided local parish support - we created and reviewed a plan with West Wittering Parish Council to ‘green up’ the parish to improve biodiversity and the local environment for residents while reducing contractor costs on parish land.

  • Reviewed and reported on the main drainage ditches and channels in West Wittering.

  • Provided habitat management advice to landowners in Birdham, Bracklesham, West Wittering and East Wittering.

  • Worked with Birdham Parish Council to improve biodiversity at Birdham recreational ground with tree planting session, the creation of a wildflower bank, and mowing areas less for pollinators.

Classroom set up for owl pellet session with a whole class at West Wittering primary school in November 2023, supporting the class with their work on the book 'The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark'.

We're very proud of what we've achieved so far and we have lots more planned in the final year of the project. If you're in one of the parishes mentioned above and have ideas for how we can improve your local space for nature then do get in touch!

We'd really love to have more volunteers join us for our weekly wildlife habitat sessions. You don't need to have any experience, you don't have to come every week, you don't have to stay for the whole session, and we'll always find a suitable job for you to do regardless of physical ability. We are often at sites with nearby parking that are not 'in the middle of nowhere'. And there's friendly chatter, hot drinks and cake! Please sign up here for email alerts that will tell you where we are every week and what we're doing.


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