5:30 am August 8, 2021
A meadow in a Norwich park that has been set aside for hard tennis courts is home to at least 130 different species, it is said.
Campaigners have called for a proper consultation on the future of the former Heigham Park site, which was used as Norwich’s last public turf until 2017.
Citizen scientists, led by specialist environmentalists, were allowed to conduct a wildlife investigation in the old courts on August 2.
Survey leader and environmentalist Sarah Gelpke said: “The purpose of this survey was to establish and highlight the change in ecological conditions at the site since the last survey and ecological report were carried out in 2018, when the site has been described as “of low ecological quality”. ‘.
“Since that initial investigation, the tennis court area has transformed into a meadow of wild flowers and grasses, with an astonishing range of plant and animal biodiversity. “
The investigation identified and cataloged 56 types of flowering plants, including the little hawkbit, six types of grasses, and 12 types of trees and shrubs ranging from goat willow to tree of heaven.
Animals identified as present included the wood mouse, hedgehog, yellow-necked mouse, common shrew, and Eurasian pygmy shrew.
They also observed 11 species of pollinators – bees and hoverflies, 16 types of invertebrates, including five types of butterflies, and 18 types of dragons and damselflies, from the Norfolk peddler to the red darter.
A nocturnal survey of bats revealed the presence of species, the common pipistrelle, the pipistrelle pipistrelle and the brown bat, and possibly three others the alcathoe, the brandt’s bat and the bat. whiskered mouse.
Peter Cutting, survey participant and member of the Heigham Park advisory group, who is calling for a consultation to take place on the future of the area, said: “We knew this grassy area was rich in wildlife, but not also rich.
“We call on the council, in accordance with its stated environmental policy, to suspend this project and fully consider the value of what it has here.”
The group hopes the finding will support the case for a new consultation on the disputed construction of hard courts that would cover more than two-thirds of the wildflower meadow.
Norwich City Council has previously said it has carried out all statutory work associated with the project, including a “rigorous planning process”.