Case study: Putting the bee in Bracknell

Urban development, along with climate change and the effect it has on our environment is at the forefront of everyone’s mind…

As part of the project to develop a Biodiversity Toolkit, and as we work towards our new Biodiversity Strategy, we used our site in Bracknell (an estate made up of Mount Pleasant, Orchard Court and Jubilee Court) as a case study to put into practise some of the management options that would go into the toolkit to encourage a wider range of plants and animals, and to improve engagement of the residents in the green spaces, around the estate.

We called this case study ‘Putting the bee in Bracknell’.

After identifying available resources and the green spaces around the estate, ecologists from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) and Thames Valley Records Centre (TVERC) undertook some baseline ecological surveys in the summer of 2019 to see what plants and animals were already present on the site.

Around the same time our Estate Care and Sustainability Team held a series of events, including a Bioblitz and coffee mornings, in which residents of Mount Pleasant, Orchard Court and Jubilee Court in Berkshire were encouraged to join our staff and ecologists from UKCEH, TVERC and the National Trust to learn about what wildlife was present around their homes, how the green spaces around the site could be improved, and background to the project to develop a Biodiversity Toolkit.

An important part of Putting the bee in Bracknell was gathering the opinions and thoughts of our residents on how they’d like their green spaces to look and feel. There was a great turnout from residents who came equipped with some fantastic ideas to help. It was clear from the customer feedback received in Bracknell that the residents’ priorities were more flowers and attracting more birds to the area.

Following this, our Estate Care Team were busy the following spring, working hard to implement some of the management options around the estate including; planting plug plants, putting up lots of different bird boxes, filling gaps in hedgerows with native hedgerow plants, creating piles of dead wood and bug hotels important for lots of different creatures, and creating an entirely new wildflower meadow on the land adjacent to Orchard Court!

Ongoing management thereafter included reduced mowing in selected areas to allow different plants and grasses to flourish and produce flowers, attracting more insects and other wildlife.

Although COVID-19 meant we couldn’t do as much as we would have liked in 2020, ecologists from TVERC and UKCEH managed a visit later in the summer to survey some of the areas around the estate where management options had been put in place.

Hopefully we will start to see more and more different plants and animals around the site following this fantastic work at Bracknell, and get residents and staff recording what wildlife they see.