Crowthorne by-pass, Berkshire
Nearest town or settlement: Bracknell
This is a fine example of good quality habitat creation/restoration project that was subsequently undermined by the amenity planting of cultivated daffodils.
The following account was provided by Heather Sussex in 1996
At the start of the 90s the Crowthorne by-pass was built in East Berks, cutting through an extensive conifer plantation. This area sites within the Thames Basin Heaths Natural Area, and the plantation was originally established on virgin heath and acid grassland. County council chiefs saw and seized an opportunity to carry out some innovative heathland habitat creation on the sizeable steep embankments resulting from the road cutting.
Whilst some tree planting was done to appease various parties, the embankments were hydra seeded with a mix of heathland species in keeping with the local landscape and nearby important SSSI heathlands.
Initial growth on the banks was predominantly of fine grasses and a spectacular carpet of Bird's-foot Trefoil, but in 1995 the now established heathers began to flower and provide a purple display to gladden the hearts of local conservationists. Gorse had also become well established (and will need management); casual recording has shown that species such as Common Blue, Green Hairstreak, Woodlark, Tree Pipit, Mottled Grasshopper and (Heath) Spotted Orchid are all using the habitat.
It was with some amazement that a drive along the by-pass in April 1996 revealed a bizarre addition to the biodiversity of the heathland banks. Spattered haphazardly amongst the heath were a few thousand of the brightest daffodils ever to grace this internationally important habitat type. It would surely be a valuable research project to investigate the dispersal and colonising mechanisms involved in this, or perhaps its just a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is planting.