Wild About Wight

this in from Artecology

The Arc in Oakfield will be celebrating the culmination of a community wildlife project this spring, with a new sculptural nature trail that creates habitat for wildlife and simple woodland conservation work all helping to showcase just what a fantastic resource this Ryde greenspace and play area is.

Community nature programme, Wild About Wight and the biodiversity designers Artecology have been working alongside Oakfield communities and housing association landowners, Sovereign for a number of years now, with the Arc at the heart of a range of nature-related activities and practical conservation from edible hedgerow and tree nursery planting and Green Army conservation days to Big Bug Day and 2018’s summer safari.

‘The Arc’s on, and part of, a greenway from Ryde and through Oakfield and it always surprises people that there are stunning rural views across a mini-valley, a meandering river, eels and willows… and now there’s a nature-supporting nature trail too.  Artecology designed a special ‘Biototem’ trail to help draw people between woodland and play area and to give local families and business park employees more to explore. 

Claire Hector, project co-ordinator

It’s more than public art this though, as it acts as wildlife habitat too. Each Biototem has been patterned with 150 holes of different sizes to create habitat for a range of invertebrates including the all-important solitary mining bees. Look out too for the species pyrographed and carved on the totems and new signs, all featuring wildlife you might spot there. There’s a water scorpion to remind you the banks of Monktonmead are just below you, and a stag beetle whose larvae love vertical wood just like the totems! The trail brings you to specially sculpted ammonites and is seeded with wildflowers.

The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s Woodland apprentices supplied specially sourced log benches for us and local sign company Clifford Matthews translated the wildlife designs into new signage.  Green Army volunteers have helped with coppicing by the river which is now showing dividends, and the litter is regularly being picked thanks to new links forged with the Community Payback Team, while Sovereign Housing have upgraded the play area too. 

A key aim has always been to ensure this patch of semi-urban greenspace is recognised for its biodiversity value and that the woodland is itself is brought to good status. Going forward, wildlife consultancy Arc has provided an environmental management plan to support landowners Sovereign Housing, which we hope will help sustain it for both people and wildlife in the future. Now all that’s left is to celebrate!  All are invited to join Wild About Wight, the Artecology team, Sovereign Housing too, for our free Arc Safari & Celebration this coming half term, Friday 31st May from 1pm – 3pm.

Funding for this project is thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding through Down to the Coast, Wild About Wight, Vectis Housing and with support from Sovereign Housing.