Volunteers at the RSPB

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More than 50 members of RSPB staff plus volunteers and specialists gathered to help nature.

They spent Wednesday, December 19 clearing young birch saplings from the developing heathland at The Lodge reserve in Sandy.

They cleared more than 4.5 hectares of land, which would have taken the regular work party volunteers many weeks or even months to complete.

Local woodsman, Patrick Brown, took bundles of the birch to use for sculpting.

Andy Schofield, warden of the Sandy reserve, said: “Lowland heathland is a very rare and vulnerable habitat.

“If the heathland habitat was left with no intervention from our reserve management team it would slowly turn in to woodland continuing the slow cycle of succession.

“This would be detrimental to the many rare and threatened species that are dependent on heathland for their survival.

“Silver birch is an early successional tree of heathland and it will quickly take hold, becoming dominant and scrub over the heather removing the warm, open nature of lowland Heathland which is critical to promoting a rich and diverse myriad of species.

“By reducing the amount of silver birch cover on our heathland restoration project this will enable heather and other smaller plant communities to flourish providing suitable habitat for many threatened species of birds.

“It will also help birds such as woodlark, Dartford warbler, nightjar and stonechat as well as hundreds of other species, most notably invertebrates, such as tiger beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, solitary bees and wasps and of course our population of the very rare natterjack toads.”