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Image: Andy Hay
The Lodge reserve, where the RSPB has its headquarters, protects an important area of heathland, acid grassland and woodland along the Greensand Ridge.
Work began to restore lost heathland in 2005 and now heather seedlings are once again growing on Sandy Warren, part of The Lodge nature reserve.
Heathland covered The Lodge for 5000 years, but almost all was lost to forestry and agriculture in the 1800s. Our work to restore heathland on one square kilometre of land will make it the largest area of heathland in Bedfordshire.
We are also working to provide an enjoyable experience for visitors and to convey conservation messages to key stakeholders and the broader public.
We are managing heathland and acid grassland for birds such as tree pipits, and aim to attract breeding woodlarks, nightjars and Dartford warblers. All of these have been seen on the reserve since heathland restoration work began.
In order to reseed the area with heather, our work includes mowing, grazing with sheep, and stripping turf.
We are also managing pools for reintroduced natterjack toads by maintaining their water levels and removing encroaching trees.
On the new parts of The Lodge reserve (Sandy Warren and Sandy Ridge), we are converting areas of conifer plantation into heath by felling trees, removing underlying litter and then seeding with grasses, gorse and heather.
We will manage the new heath using sheep grazing and mowing, and will control any unwanted regeneration of trees on open ground.
We are managing the semi-native woodland at The Lodge to encourage wildlife such as beetles, bats and lesser spotted woodpeckers. This involves removing some non-native trees, while encouraging areas of oak and birch.
At Sandy Warren and Sandy Ridge, we are converting coniferous woodland into native broadleafed woodland, by under-planting with native saplings. We are leaving scattered areas of birch, pine and fir for their landscape value.
The Lodge receives many visitors. We are maintaining and improving our facilities, including our hides, shop, nature trails and bird feeding areas. We offer a full events programme.
New parts of The Lodge such as Sandy Warren, Sandy Ridge and the Iron Age hill fort on Galley Hill will soon be opened once restoration work is complete. We are creating new nature trails, linked to the rest of the reserve, which will allow for a possible 80,000 annual visitors to the combined area.
Meanwhile we are using the reserve to showcase all aspects of the RSPB's work, whilst strengthening our links with key supporters, target audiences and the local community.
This nature reserve is supported by the SITA, Grantscape and Biffa Award through the Landfill Communities Fund (formerly the Landfill Tax Credit Scheme), Natural England through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Sandy Town Council and Mid Beds District Council.
Heathland is vital for several species of remarkable birds and other wildlife. Help us restore heathland at The Lodge.