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Wildlife refuge is the latest addition to Victoria Square

A REFUGE for wildlife to shelter in during winter is the latest addition to Victoria Square.

The addition of the three hibernaculum (underground chambers which offer refuge for reptiles and invertebrates in the winter months) is part of a project – carried out by Friends of Victoria Square and funded by The National Heritage Lottery and Welsh Government Community Woodlands grant – to improve the biodiversity and ecology of Victoria Square in Penarth.

Friends of Victoria Square were granted £9,000 in 2019 and conducted some baseline surveys on the Square including tree and ecology surveys, which enabled them to discuss potential improvements with ecologists, landscape architects, and the public at an open evening.

In January of this year the National Heritage Lottery and Welsh Government Community Woodlands scheme granted funds to enable Friends of Victoria Square to continue with their project.

Penarth Times: The community garden at Victoria Square in Penarth

Other recent work carried out by the group includes:

  • Carrying out essential expert works to improve the health of trees on the Square
  • Planting 11 new trees
  • Preparing areas of wildflowers to hopefully bloom next year
  • Creating six log piles with planting surrounding them
  • Creating a bog garden (a damp/soggy garden)
  • Providing access to water for wildlife
  • Developing a community garden with five raised beds
  • Installing bird and bat boxes

Penarth Times: The bog garden at Victoria Square in Penarth

Friends of Victoria Park are now preparing to aerate the soil to help improve natural drainage in the area to prevent waterlogging in the winter which damages the perennial plants.

Peter Blackburn, who is secretary of Friends of Victoria Square, said: “We looked at how we could improve the [waterlogging] situation without having to install drainage channels which would be disruptive and could damage tree roots.

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“The system to be used by our contractors, Terrain Aeration, drills holes one metre deep at two metre centres, blasting air to create connecting fissures between the holes, enhancing natural drainage and improving the quality of the soil, also reducing compaction.”

Other plans for Victoria Square include:

  • Planting bluebells and daffodils to bloom in spring 2022
  • Planting winter vegetables and flowers in the raised beds
  • Creating child-friendly mini ponds as a source of water for wildlife (about the size and depth of a large puddle)
  • Training staff to conduct nature trails in 2022
  • Installing wildlife cameras next summer to enable wildlife and ecology surveys
  • Crowdfunding to provide more seating
  • Installing additional bird and bat boxes

Penarth Times: Victoria Square in Penarth

To find out more, donate, or volunteer, visit friendsofvictoriasquare.org or find the group on Facebook.

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