Scrub bashing is good for you

Wellbeing Programme Martin Down Volunteers enjoying the fire Tim Kaye 141114

People with mental health difficulties are benefiting from conservation work at Martin Down, near Salisbury, thanks to Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s Wellbeing programme, funded by Wiltshire Council Public Health.

Martin Down is a nationally important nature reserve, looked after by Natural England which invited the group to help cut and burn scrub – a vital part of the on-going management of the reserve, to preserve the chalk grassland that supports a myriad of bird and butterfly species.

Spending time outside doing physical work has proved highly beneficial to the volunteers on the Wellbeing programme. And one volunteer said: “I would like to thank the Wellbeing team for giving me the chance to improve my life and become more active.”

The volunteers have made a huge difference to the amount of work that is achieved at Martin Down.

Robert Lloyd, Senior Ranger at the site, said: “Huge thanks to you and your troops for the work carried out at Martin Down – the weather couldn’t have been better and the enthusiasm from all fantastic.”

The Wellbeing programme has been running since 2008 and has helped those experiencing mental health issues back into education, employment or voluntary positions. Activities run throughout the county undertaking work on Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Wiltshire Council reserves for the benefit of people and wildlife.

The work at Martin Down, National Nature Reserve will benefit rare plants such as Dwarf Sedge (Carex humilis) and Burnt-tip orchid (Neotinea ustulata). Being outside, socialising and learning new skills has been a life changing experience for many of the people on the programme in addition to improving habitats for wildlife.

Photo: Tim Kaye