Wildlife haven created at Coventry school

A major biodiversity project at a Coventry school has resulted in the creation of a wildlife haven and significant education resource for students.

The project has been carried out on the site and surrounding areas at Ernesford Grange Community Academy and Riverbank Academy in Ernesford Grange.

The biodiversity works have been part of the recent £5 million extension project of Ernesford Grange Community Academy, which was funded by Coventry City Council and completed by Deeley Construction.

Deeley Construction has been working with Warwickshire based Arbscape Tree Surgeons to create and cultivate the new area.

Work has taken place on the main school site, the playing field and adjoining land.

A key feature is a 300 square metre ‘tiny forest’ which has seen the planting of a range of native species in a tight space. The forest has been planted using Miyawaki methodology, which sees two to four trees planted per square metre, and allows it to be self-sustaining.

A further 21 new scattered trees have been planted on the main school site, another four within an existing hedgerow and seven more on the additional field.

Existing trees in the area have had bird and bat boxes installed on them, while an invertebrate ‘hotel’ has also been created to provide habitats for small mammals, invertebrates, and amphibians.

New hedges, scrub planting and blossom trees have been planted, with work also ongoing to create a total of 7,000 square metres of wildflower meadow.

The biodiversity project has also seen control measures introduced to counteract invasive, non-native species, which are a threat to native wildlife– including alongside the nearby river.

Colin Sheasby, of Arbscape Tree Surgeons, said: “We’re very optimistic that the ecological impact and benefit to wildlife in the area will be huge, and it is hoped all the different features will become a habitat for everything from bats and badgers to invertebrates and birds.

“The work will significantly enhance the site and the biodiverse wildlife corridor that links it to existing natural habitats.

“We’ve been working to rid the site of Himalayan Cotoneaster and control the Himalayan Balsam, which will help the long-term stability of the local ecosystem.

“This is the first time we have worked with the Deeley Group on a project, and we were brought together by Coventry City Council. It has been a great partnership and we are proud of the work we have done together.

“It has been lovely to be able to invite students from the school to help us in the planting of the ‘tiny forest’ and it will be a great educational resource for pupils in the future.”

Martin Gallagher, managing director of Deeley Construction, added: “This is one of the largest-scale biodiversity projects we have been involved with and it will bring fantastic benefits to the staff and students at the school, as well as the local ecosystem.

“The need for this work was identified in an ecological survey as part of the original planning process. It’s great that Coventry City Council understands the importance of enhancing the environment and placed an emphasis on this in the planning requirements.”