Houghton Hall Park in Houghton Regis has been given a ‘Highly Commended’ award in the ‘Biodiversity and Landscape Improvement’ category at the CPRE Living Countryside Awards.
Despite its urban environment, the park is a haven for a range of wildlife due to careful habitat management.
Councillor Steven Watkins, Deputy Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council, said: “Houghton Hall Park has a range of habitats, including grasslands, scrub and woodlands. With so many habitats in a relatively small area, it makes for a rich diversity of wildlife. We are indebted to the Friends of Houghton Hall Park who help us to manage these habitats through regular working parties. They keep the parkland at its best and ensure a rich biodiversity for all to enjoy.
“The park has been transformed to meet the needs of a growing community, whilst retaining its valuable heritage and other unique features.”
The grasslands at Houghton Hall Park are home to a range of wildflowers which attract insects such as bees and butterflies ranging from meadow browns, marbled whites to large skippers. The scrubby areas and hedgerows are good for birds, especially summer visitors such as blackcaps and whitethroats. The woods make great habitats for muntjac deer and grey squirrels, and for birds such as nuthatches, great spotted woodpeckers and chiffchaffs. Blackbirds, wrens, great tits, robins and song thrushes add their voices during the spring and summer.
Conservation activities have included hazel coppicing and using the cut branches to create a fort-building zone where children can use their imagination to play. As well assisting with the natural environment, a group of around 20 local volunteers have helped to create the kitchen gardens whose produce is used by the park café to make homemade meals.
To volunteer at Houghton Hall Park, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For details of events, visit www.facebook.com/houghtonhallpark