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Ecology Team to Safeguard Wildlife Ahead of Lake Dredge

A team of ecologists have begun work to help safeguard vital wildlife habitats ahead of our £9m lake dredge project, which is due to get under way in April.

We have enlisted the expertise of Oxfordshire-based BSG Ecology to ensure the huge civil engineering programme will cause minimum disruption to our fauna and flora.

Wildlife surveys carried out by BSG Ecology ahead of the dredging has revealed the estate is home to a huge variety of wildlife including more than 50% of the UK’s different bat species, 36 different species types of wildfowl, water voles, badgers, otters, reptiles and a number of rare insect species.

“In preparation for lake dredging work to begin in the spring, we undertook a wildlife audit at Blenheim, identifying key species that need to be protected, said Roy Cox, Estates Director.

“Where necessary we will be setting up soft release pens and traps to move water vole populations away from any potential disturbance and we will also be providing alternative nesting boxes for bats and other species,

“With the all-clear given from our ecologists, we have already begun removing scrub and reeds to enable access to the Queen Pool in readiness for the project to begin,” he said.

In addition to re-locating water voles and fish to other areas of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, work will also be carried out to improve habitats and environments, encouraging existing species to flourish as well as attract new ones once the dredge is completed.

“The dredge will allow us to ensure the long-term survival of this crucially important habitat and means we will be able to continue to be a haven for so many native wildlife species,” Roy added.

The project has been endorsed by Natural England who recognise that Blenheim Estate is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and the lakes are one of the largest areas of open water in Oxfordshire being of regional importance for both breeding and wintering birds.

“The Lake Dredge project will not only transform and enhance the historic environment for future generations, it will dramatically improve the SSSI condition, said Samantha Merrell, Lead Adviser at Natural England.

“This will help us to deliver environmental improvements that benefit this regionally important site and the wildlife that depend on it; including over-wintering migrating wading birds such as gadwall, and great crested grebe, plus other water fowl including pochard, tufted duck, mallard, shoveler and teal” she added.

The Lake Dredge is one of Blenheim's 10-Year Goals, with our aim to complete works to the value of £40 million to conserve our World Heritage Site. Find out more about this restoration project.