Heathland work sparks wildlife debate

CONSERVATION work at an Ipswich heathland has sparked concerns that important habitats are being destroyed.

CONSERVATION work at an Ipswich heathland has sparked concerns that important habitats are being destroyed.

Park rangers at Bixley Heath, near Rushmere, have been working on the site in an attempt to keep the land suitable for a myriad of species of birds, reptiles and insects.

But a resident whose home backs onto the heath, and who has carried out conservation work there himself, says that more harm is being done than good by removing plants and trees.

Pensioner Ian Balfour, of Dorchester Road, said: “I walk on the heath regularly and when I talk to people I meet up there, a lot of them say they think what is going on is tantamount to vandalism.

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“Lots of snowdrop, daffodil and lily bulbs have been dug up and they are cutting down trees which are judged to not be native species.

“Now notices have gone up saying they are planning on cutting down more trees.

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“They are destroying natural habitats - there are woodpeckers, kestrels and magpies living here as well as many kinds of reptiles.”

Mr Balfour has lived close to the heath for 18 years and has carried out conservation work including keep it clear of litter and removing concrete and other waste.

He said: “I have nothing against the rangers, or the council, it seems like they are taking orders from higher up about how the heath should be managed, and it does not seem like they are doing the right thing.”

However a park ranger leading the conservation work said there is no cause for concern.

Joe Underwood, who works for Ipswich Borough Council, said: “The heathland has been formed over hundreds of years, and over that time trees have been cut down for firewood and to clear ground for grazing livestock.

“Without removing trees it would turn into a woodland which would not be the right habitat to support the wildlife that lives there now.

“All the work we do at the site is governed by English Nature, as it is designated as a site of special scientific interest.”

n Have you visited the heath? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveninstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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