Above is an aerial photograph of the wildlife corridor between Trowbridge and the villages of Southwick and North Bradley. It connects the woods and open farmland east of the railway line to Southwick Country Park, Sleight Wood and Vaggs Hill in the west. Rare Bechstein’s bats from Green Lane Wood use the corridor to reach SCP where they feed.
Wiltshire Council has allocated five sites in this wildlife corridor for future development: Church Lane, Upper Studley, Southwick Court, Elm Grove Farm and White Horse Business Park. The first three of these sites border onto the park and Lambrok Stream.
A wildlife corridor connects two or more important factors for a species. For the Bechstein’s it connects their maternity roost to their feeding grounds. For other species it may link to ancestral migration routes or connect two populations which will interbreed and strengthen the genetic make-up of both. If a population outgrows its habitat, if food or water sources fail or predation levels rise, a corridor provides a route to new habitat; for an isolated population it may be the only chance of survival.
Animals, birds, insects moving through a green corridor will carry with them the possibility of other species: pollen, eggs, larvae, seeds, spores. We are losing invertebrates at a rate we all find truly frightening; we can’t afford to lose these chances at growth and re-population.
We have rare species in the park and their presence is taken into account but this is not enough. We have to take into account where our female scarce chaser came from and how she got here, where her prey comes from and where her mate will come from. Their off-spring will need new habitat but with 200 houses at Southwick Court between them and the ponds at Biss Brook they won’t find it to the east.
Wiltshire’s strategy of allocating greenfield sites in undeveloped countryside around Trowbridge rather than brownfield sites in the increasingly derelict centre of the town has attracted a lot of criticism. The plan was discussed at a meeting of Wiltshire Council last week at which several people spoke out in opposition and were applauded by the public. The closing remarks, however, were not encouraging.
Find out who your councillor is; write, email, call. Make your feelings known.
Bechstein bat: (CC0)
Scarce chaser: DKG
More development threats to the park: