Wigwell Friends are volunteers who work with the Wychwood Forest Trust to manage Wigwell Nature Reserve for wildlife and biodiversity.
The emerging plans for Wigwell have the potential to make a real difference for wildlife and biodiversity and you can be part of it! If you would like to get involved or just to find out more, please email email@example.com or contact me, Peter Kenrick on 01608 811021. We would be delighted to welcome you to the Wigwell Friends.
We run work parties on the reserve on the 2nd Wednesday each month. If you want to take part please email me at the above address and I'll give you details. The work we do varies and includes maintaining the permissive footpaths, managing the rare flora such as Meadow Clary, monitoring species such as butterflies and reptiles, controlling invasive vegetation, AND creating and managing habitats to increase biodiversity. I hope to see you there.
A community project is just starting to create "leaky" dams along the Wigwell stream, mimicking the actions of beavers! We would have liked to introduce some real beavers but the site is a bit too close to the town for these shy creatures so we have to pretend to be beavers ourselves and create some analogue dams. You can find out more about these dams here. The hope is that these dams will help to do two important things. First, they will help to regulate water flow and hence reduce flood risks after periods of intense rainfall. Second, they will create or expand new wetland habitats in the areas behind the dams which will attract new species of flora and fauna and hence build biodiversity. As these habitats emerge we will need to keep our eyes can open to see what comes along and we want your help! This is a community project so please join us - email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved. We are especially keen to involve the younger members of the community so if you run a youth group, come and talk to us.
To get the project started, we are running some additional work parties and I will keep the list of dates updated here. Current planned dates are: Wednesday 26th Jan, Wed 9th Feb and Sat 26th Feb - all at 10am.
Before the project started, the Wigwell stream was surveyed to ensure there were not any important rare species currently in the stream that may be affected by the dams - there weren't! The project is funded through the Evenlode Catchment Partnership adn is being managed by the Wychwood Forest Trust.
In the valley to the north of Nine Acres Lane lies the ecologically important and much-loved area known locally as Wigwell. This land is accessible via a permissive path starting from the gate next to the Scout Hut and this path also provides a safe alternative walking route for anyone heading to the Old Shed café at Banbury Hill. Wigwell, which is owned by Thames Water, contains many springs and, at one time, provided water supplies to Charlbury. The site also includes an area of species-rich meadow habitat which is one of only a handful of sites across the country where the near-threatened species Meadow Clary (Salvia Pratensis) grows wild. This area is a designated local wildlife site and the whole of Wigwell is designated for protection as a Local Green Space in Charlbury’s Neighbourhood Plan which was adopted in June 2021. With the Wigwell stream running through it, the site is at the heart of a blue-green corridor which has major significance for wildlife, biodiversity and water quality.
Wigwell is managed under an environmental lease by The Wychwood Forest Trust (formerly know as the Wychwood Project) with assistance from volunteers including the local Wigwell Friends and the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. The Wychwood Forest Trust believes that the site has extensive and exciting potential for biodiversity and habitat creation, and their plans for future management of the site (including the Analogue Beaver Dams) are designed to encourage more “natural succession” in some areas (i.e. allowing habitats to re-establish naturally within a wider scheme). This approach shares some features with “rewilding” but with more targeted focus. We are fortunate indeed to have a site like Wigwell on our doorstep. Many thanks are due to Thames Water for making the site available and to the Wychwood Forest Trust for their exceptional work in managing the site. The future plans for Wigwell have the potential to make a real difference and you can be part of it!