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Wildlife improvements for Dodham Brook at Yeovil Country Park

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The Yeovil Rivers Community Trust (YRCT) have teamed up with South Somerset District Council to enhance Dodham Brook in Ninesprings Yeovil. The scheme will rejuvenate the brook which runs from Goldenstones Leisure Centre through Ninesprings and on to the Yeo Leisure Park where it joins the river Yeo. The work will provide better habitat for endangered water voles and create an improved environment for many other species that live in and around the brook.

This grant funded (with generous support from the Environment Agency, Steel Charitable Trust,  Postcode Local Trust and Somerset Catchment Partnership) project will put particular emphasis on enhancing the quality and extent of habitat for water voles, a European protected species, by providing more diversity of plants for them to eat, reducing invasive species such as Himalayan Balsam, increasing nesting opportunities along the riverside margins and creating corridors to link aquatic habitats within the park.  These changes will also increase the biodiversity of plant and insects in and around the brook. Natural features that will be put in the brook will also provide improved habitat for fish and other aquatic species, which will in turn, provide a better diversity of prey for other river animals and birds such as the kingfisher and otter, which breed in this area.

Not only will the plans improve the brook for wildlife, it will also transform it from a dull, featureless stream into a colourful and picturesque waterway for visitors to enjoy.  The on-site works have already started and hope to be completed by February 2021.

Lorne Thomson, chair of YRCT says "Yeovil Rivers Community Trust is very excited about this project. Yeovil Country Park is a huge asset to the town and we are very lucky to have it. The proposed enhancement works will help to make the park even more attractive and enjoyable for the public. Wildlife will also benefit significantly from the improvements, especially the water vole and kingfisher populations resident in the park. We hope to attract new species of birds, insects and animals and help to protect the park and its wildlife from the negative impacts of climate change. This project embodies the trust's aims to improve the environment for the benefit of people and wildlife"

Countryside Manager at SSDC, Rachael Whaites says “We are lucky to be working in partnership with the YRCT on this project. They bring a wealth of knowledge and experience and it is not something we could achieve without them. Our water vole population is very isolated in the Ninesprings section of the brook, so anything we can do to help them will ensure this population remains viable for the future. The improvements for other wildlife along the brook and for our visitors is also really important to our management of the country park and we look forward to seeing these changes transform the brook over the next couple of years.”

Above: Water Vole at Yeovil Country Park. Credit: Barbie Markey

Portfolio Holder for Environment Councillor Sarah Dyke added “Working with the Yeovil Rivers Community Trust is a great opportunity to enhance our waterways, for biodiversity and water quality. As part of the SSDC Environment Strategy we have committed to protecting wetlands and to increase planting in our rivers and ponds. This project goes a long way to supporting these aims and we look forward to seeing an enhanced Dodham Brook as a result.”

Yeovil Rivers Community Trust is also working to enhance and improve other waterways in Yeovil. Check out their website to find out more and even volunteer! https://www.yrct.co.uk/.

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