A colony of glow-worms, a declining species with no legal protection, were found residing within a small existing hedgerow during a recent recce to Norbury Park near Dorking.
Surrey County Council is nearing the end of this year’s tree planting season and modified the proposed hedge planting on site after the find. This was to benefit the species and enhance the declining habitat to provide a better chance of survival. Over 3,800 native broadleaf trees were planted to provide a habitat corridor to not only allow the glow-worms to travel more freely in search of their food but also encourage other wildlife species. Glow-worms thrive in a mosaic of habitats which combine earth, tall grasses and scrub. To support this, gaps were left within the newly planted hedgerows to encourage the growth of grasses and wildflowers, helping to attract snails which are the preferred food source of glow-worms.
Working in partnership with the local farmer, it was also decided to relocate a flock of sheep grazing close to the glow-worms to a nearby alternative field. This minimised disturbance and increased the best chance of stabilising and increasing the colony.
Glow-worms are a rare invertebrate most often found as larvae, living under rocks on chalk or limestone grassland, and feeding on slugs and snails. Females are famous for emitting a green-orange light at night. They climb up plant stems and glow in order to attract males, who have large, photosensitive eyes – perfect for scanning vegetation at night.
Marisa Heath, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Environment said: “It is important that we work to have a rich variety of wildlife species in the county and we must do our upmost to protect them when we are told that the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world.
“Research shows that glow-worms have been recorded within Norbury Park since the 1980s and we want to do as much as we can to support and grow the colony of this rare invertebrate. By adapting our hedge planting plans we are not only supporting Surrey County Council’s target to facilitate the planting of 1.2 million new trees by 2030 but also playing our part in helping to reverse the national decline of this rare species right here in Surrey.”
Read more about how Surrey County Council are helping to support biodiversity in the Climate Change Delivery Plan and Tree Strategy.
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