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BTS Group helped keep heathland healthy during a Wild Work Day on 25 January 2024. 

Support staff swapped laptops for loppers and spent the day clearing pine seedlings from Blaxhall Common. The day had double advantages: helping the Suffolk Wildlife Trust maintain an important natural site and contributing to employee wellbeing. Activities like this help with team building and offer the wellbeing benefits of enjoying the great outdoors. BTS encourages employees to suggest volunteering opportunities, which has positive effects on wellbeing and helps the business give back to the community.



Supporting Suffolk Wildlife Trust

BTS is a business supporter of both Suffolk and Norfolk Wildlife Trusts as part of the company’s commitment to having a positive impact on nature and the community.

Sarah Marklove, Infrastructure Director, attended the Suffolk Wildlife Trust AGM in October 2023, in part to get the opportunity to chat with some SWT organisers and find out how BTS can help support their work. This Wild Work Day was one of the outcomes. 

Blaxhall Common

Blaxhall Common is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and part of the Sandlings Special Protection Area. A “mosaic” of vegetation, Sandlings heathland hosts woodlarks, nightjars, and Dartford warblers; as well as solitary bees, reptiles, butterflies, and antlions. 

The heath needs active management, as bracken, scrub, and trees have encroached on the heather and acidic grassland that act as habitat for key species. The Wild Work Day was part of this management effort.

Wild work

BTS staff met SWT wardens and regular volunteers on a damp and hazy morning. Ben Calvesbert, Heaths and Meadows Warden, briefed the risk assessment and ran through the day’s task: to pinpoint and remove as many self-set pine seedlings as possible. 

Using loppers, band saws, and good old-fashioned yanking (using appropriate gloves, of course), the team spotted and removed hundreds of seedlings over a good area of heathland. 

Pine arisings were piled on the south side of mature trees, where possible. This was for the benefit of reptiles like the adder and common lizard, who like to nest in the warm, sheltered microhabitats. 

During work, and over a couple of tea-and-biscuit breaks, the SWT wardens were happy to answer questions about the heathland and their work in general. They explained that the very wet winter hadn’t been too much of a problem for the Common, as the soil was sandy and drained well. However, the scorching heatwaves and low-rainfall summers of the past few years had caused real issues with heather dying off – something that reduces food and habitat for important species and raises the risk of wildfire. 

Nevertheless, the conservation efforts on Blaxhall Common are making a real difference, and the mosaic of vegetation is recovering.

At the end of the day, Ben thanked the BTS volunteers and invited them back in the summer to see the heather in its purple glory and hear the nightjar sing.