Southern Co-operative gives £10,000 boost to local wildlife project

Endangered of birds and animals in Twyford have been thrown a lifeline thanks to a £10, 000 donation from the Southern Co-operative to Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust to help them purchase a 31-acre farm.

Hockley Meadows Farm, on floodplain meadow near the Hampshire village, is home to key species such as the water vole, otter, marsh marigold and the rare southern damselfly.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust urgently needed  £200,000 to complete the purchase and in February they announced they had smashed that target, generating £232, 000.

Stephanie Watson, fundraising officer from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust said: “The Southern Co-operative’s contribution of £10,000 really tipped the balance in our fundraising work and we are hugely grateful for their support.”

The farm is important habitat for rare species like the southern damselfly (Photo: Paul Ritchie)

The Trust has said it will use the farm as the livestock hub for its Winchester area of operations, with improved capacity for calving and lambing.

The buildings will also allow the Trust to respond to emergencies such as flooding or disease outbreak which require swift removal of livestock from other sites.

As well as providing supporting grazing and provision of hay, the meadows will be managed sensitively for their wildlife value. Two of the larger meadow compartments lend themselves nicely to hay production and we hope to improve the botanical diversity in these two meadows through continued hay cutting.

The northern meadow known as Tumbling Bay is part of the statutorily designated Itchen Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest, and will be managed specifically according to its wildlife needs.

“Across the farm and in combination with our adjoining Hockley Meadows nature reserve and the River Itchen there is incredible wildlife interest,” says the trust.

“Although the farm is intended to serve us in operational terms, our intention is to maintain a low intensity system that is compatible with wildlife interests and consistent with the nearby reserves that we manage.”

Gemma Lacey, director of sustainability and communications at Southern, said: “We are delighted to support the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust in their project.

“We work jointly with the ten wildlife trusts from Somerset to Berkshire and across Hampshire, Sussex and Kent, to share ideas and inspire our colleagues, members and others to discover their wild side and green their neighbourhood.

“We also work with those trusts to help families to get outside and explore their local wild neighbourhoods. Whether it’s investigating animal tracks and signs, hunting for bugs and butterflies, or creating a wildlife-friendly garden, there’s lots people can do to support wildlife on their doorsteps.”

The Southern Co-operative has donated over £45,000, as well as working to champion local wildlife at their Oaks Crematorium in Hampshire and Clayton Wood Natural Burial Ground in West Sussex, in a partnership with the region’s wildlife trusts spanning seven years.