A3095 Wild Way Project

Background

The Parks and Countryside team have been working with the Highways and Transport Department on the A3095 Crowthorne Road improvement works. This partnership will help deliver environmental improvement works whilst also offsetting the essential removal of some trees.

By using the knowledge and experience of the Parks and Countryside team in delivering landscape improvements for biodiversity and public enjoyment, this project has been able to turn these roadworks into an opportunity to improve the natural environment, both along the A3095 and in neighbouring communities.

By undertaking a greenway approach to the works, we are able to:

  • deliver more trees and natural habitat for wildlife
  • connect fragmented urban woodland habitats
  • deliver community enhancements to improve the landscape and feel of the local environment

The project

The A3095 Wild Way Project will concentrate on replanting areas of felled Pine along the roadside with native broad-leaved species in a way that will minimise the view of the road. Evergreen species will also be planted. As our native evergreens are slow growing, it will take them a little longer to make a year-round visual barrier.

In the wider area, the project focuses on creating habitat opportunities by planting trees and hedgerows, removing invasive Rhododendron and creating ponds in wet areas. Within woodlands, we will concentrate on the removal of invasive species and increasing plant diversity by adding ferns, bulbs and honeysuckle. Where planting trees is not possible, native bulbs will be used instead. These will be a beautiful addition to the roadside verges and will improve their value for pollinators.

We will be working with Bracknell Town Council as they take care of many parks in the area. Works to the parks will include meadow creation, fruit tree planting, bulb planting and woodland improvements.

The improvement scheme

The improvement scheme will focus on a 200 metre radius around the A3095 Crowthorne Road, between the Golden Retriever Roundabout and the Hanworth Roundabout. This includes the roundabout junctions themselves.

These works will include:

  • planting of native trees, both mature standards and whips
  • planting of native hedgerow species
  • woodland improvements within woodland areas along Nine Mile Ride, Wooden Hill, Ullswater, Holland Pines, Neuman Crescent, Dryden Woods, amongst others
  • connecting the woodlands which surround this area to provide wildlife corridors
  • enhancing the established woodland areas, including additional trees and native shrub planting, woodland flora and animal habitat installation
  • creating visual barriers to the dual carriageway for local residents
  • creating community orchards
  • creating and enhancing wildflower meadows
  • planting bulbs alongside road verges
  • creating ponds and wetland habitats for aquatic flora and fauna
  • planting species that are suitable for the borough
  • improving the numbers of, or habitats for, Biodiversity Action Plan species
  • including species that are rich in food or value for our native wildlife

Once complete, the Crowthorne Road Wild Way scheme will contribute towards:

  • wildlife corridors through the very urban environment
  • improving air quality and landscape value through high levels of tree and shrub planting
  • nesting and foraging opportunity’s for birds, bats, insects and hedgehogs
  • the promotion of community through orchard creation and opportunities to experience engagement with the natural world
  • the reintroduction of Elm to the borough through provision of species resistant to, or unappealing for, Dutch Elm Disease and its beetle host

During the implementation of this scheme, public use remains crucial. Although the scheme seeks to mix natural features with urban utility, any foreseeable conflicts have been assessed. The design includes concessions and features to make sure conflicts are reduced to their lowest level. This includes:

  • making sure that hedgerows are set well back from cycleway and path edges
  • tree species are suitable for the location and soil types
  • well known desire lines are left clear
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Benefits of the Wild Way

There will be many benefits of the Wild Way to wildlife. The focus is on connectivity, food provision and Biodiversity Action Plan species. This includes the trickledown effect of providing these indicator species with foraging and nesting habitats.

There are also benefits for people, as shown by studies highlighting reduced recovery times for hospital patients with windows onto parks and trees. This includes the reduction of depression, obesity, hypertension and other mental and physical health issues.

It is hoped that this scheme will connect people, especially children, to their environment and encourage walking or cycling in the borough. It should also provide uplift to the area, creating leafy green roadways and paths which are filled with blossom through the spring.

Themes of the Wild Way

These are:

  • biodiversity
  • habitat connectivity
  • leafy paths
  • access to nature
  • visual barrier
  • learning opportunities
  • community

Timescales

Spring 2021

During the early part of 2021 ponds were created to enhance the habitat for wetland flora and fauna.

Over the past century almost 70% of ponds have been lost in our natural environment within the UK so areas of wetland are more important than ever before.

These will provide an excellent habitat for a wide variety of species including frogs, newts, dragonflies, damselflies, snails, water beetles and birds amongst many others.

Summer 2021

Late summer is the best time for treating and removing invasive plants such as bramble, bracken, Rhododendron ponticum and laurel. Where these species are prevalent, they will be removed to make way for autumn planting of suitable native alternatives.

The meadow areas will also be prepared for autumn sowing.

Autumn 2021

Autumn is a busy time. With much of the groundwork complete, it will be time to sow seed and plant shrubs and bulbs.

UK native seed will be sown for the wildflower meadows, which will bring a fantastic diversity of species to the area, providing pollinators (including bees) with local food sources throughout the season. It has been estimated that the UK has lost 97% of it’s wildflower meadows since the 1930’s so re-establishing these areas locally is of vital importance. When our native wildflowers are under threat, so are our native pollinators that rely on them. Wildflower meadows create valuable areas for insects to shelter and breed. These insects are also an important food source for birds, bats, amphibians, reptiles and small mammals all of who contribute to the local ecological network.

Native bulbs will be planted during the autumn months to help enhance wildlife corridors throughout the area. Bulbs will include native daffodils, bluebells, snowdrops, soloman’s seal, lily of the valley and more. Many of these are early flowering species which provide important sources of nectar and pollen and are vital for the early insects and birds that feed on them.

Native shrubs will be planted in many areas of woodland understorey where invasive species have previously been removed. These will provide important habitats and sources of food for birds, mammals and insects alike and will help to restore the balance in the structure of the woodland.

Winter 2021

Remaining tree planting will take place over the winter months. This is the best time to plant trees, whilst they are dormant.

The trees will all be UK native species such as hazel, bird cherry, hawthorn, wild pear, English oak, yew, beech, birch, alder, rowan, hornbeam, holly, wild service, wayfaring tree, goat willow, spindle, guelder rose and more.