An old railway embankment at Burley in the New Forest is being transformed from a scrub-dominated slope into a 'des-res' for reptiles and invertebrates.

The location is part of the New Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the managed area is notable for its wildlife which includes all six native species of reptiles and rare invertebrates such as Hymenoptera - sawflies, wasps, bees and ants.

Staff and volunteers from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) and from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Amphibian and Reptile Group including representatives of Natural England and New Forest Smooth Snake Survey volunteers continued scrub- and tree-management in January 2019 to improve the site’s conservation status.

This followed initial work during March 2018 by the Forestry Commission, New Forest National Park staff and volunteers, the New Forest Study Group and support staff and students from Brockenhurst College to manage scrub and create bare ground to improve the condition of the SSSI.

‘Sand scrapes’ around 15m x 2m have been created for invertebrate and sand lizard egg-laying areas.  A further 300m x 10m area along the old railway embankment has been managed for trees and scrub.  In total around 50 days’ work has helped to improve the quality of the location for wildlife and join up previously fragmented areas.

Nick Moulton, ARC’s Rare Reptile Conservation Officer, said: “We hope to continue to work with the Forestry Commission and other colleagues on scrub- and tree-management during the winter of 2019-2020 and restore this SSSI to a favourable condition for its important wildlife.”

The Forestry Commission also has a joint work party with DEFRA planned for February.