A3095 Wild Way Project
The Parks and Countryside team have been working with the Highways and Transport Department on the A3095 Crowthorne Road improvement works. This partnership will help deliver environmental improvement works whilst also offsetting the essential removal of some trees.
By using the knowledge and experience of the Parks and Countryside team in delivering landscape improvements for biodiversity and public enjoyment, this project has been able to turn these roadworks into an opportunity to improve the natural environment, both along the A3095 and in neighbouring communities.
By undertaking a greenway approach to the works, we are able to:
- deliver more trees and natural habitat for wildlife
- connect fragmented urban woodland habitats
- deliver community enhancements to improve the landscape and feel of the local environment
The A3095 Wild Way Project will concentrate on replanting areas of felled Pine along the roadside with native broad-leaved species in a way that will minimise the view of the road. Evergreen species will also be planted. As our native evergreens are slow growing, it will take them a little longer to make a year-round visual barrier.
In the wider area, the project focuses on creating habitat opportunities by planting trees and hedgerows, removing invasive Rhododendron and creating ponds in wet areas. Within woodlands, we will concentrate on the removal of invasive species and increasing plant diversity by adding ferns, bulbs and honeysuckle. Where planting trees is not possible, native bulbs will be used instead. These will be a beautiful addition to the roadside verges and will improve their value for pollinators.
We will be working with Bracknell Town Council as they take care of many parks in the area. Works to the parks will include meadow creation, fruit tree planting, bulb planting and woodland improvements.
The improvement scheme
The improvement scheme will focus on a 200 metre radius around the A3095 Crowthorne Road, between the Golden Retriever Roundabout and the Hanworth Roundabout. This includes the roundabout junctions themselves.
These works will include:
- planting of native trees, both mature standards and whips
- planting of native hedgerow species
- woodland improvements within woodland areas along Nine Mile Ride, Wooden Hill, Ullswater, Holland Pines, Neuman Crescent, Dryden Woods, amongst others
- connecting the woodlands which surround this area to provide wildlife corridors
- enhancing the established woodland areas, including additional trees and native shrub planting, woodland flora and animal habitat installation
- creating visual barriers to the dual carriageway for local residents
- creating community orchards
- creating and enhancing wildflower meadows
- planting bulbs alongside road verges
- creating ponds and wetland habitats for aquatic flora and fauna
- planting species that are suitable for the borough
- improving the numbers of, or habitats for, Biodiversity Action Plan species
- including species that are rich in food or value for our native wildlife
Once complete, the Crowthorne Road Wild Way scheme will contribute towards:
- wildlife corridors through the very urban environment
- improving air quality and landscape value through high levels of tree and shrub planting
- nesting and foraging opportunity’s for birds, bats, insects and hedgehogs
- the promotion of community through orchard creation and opportunities to experience engagement with the natural world
- the reintroduction of Elm to the borough through provision of species resistant to, or unappealing for, Dutch Elm Disease and its beetle host
During the implementation of this scheme, public use remains crucial. Although the scheme seeks to mix natural features with urban utility, any foreseeable conflicts have been assessed. The design includes concessions and features to make sure conflicts are reduced to their lowest level. This includes:
- making sure that hedgerows are set well back from cycleway and path edges
- tree species are suitable for the location and soil types
- well known desire lines are left clear
Benefits of the Wild Way
There will be many benefits of the Wild Way to wildlife. The focus is on connectivity, food provision and Biodiversity Action Plan species. This includes the trickledown effect of providing these indicator species with foraging and nesting habitats.
There are also benefits for people, as shown by studies highlighting reduced recovery times for hospital patients with windows onto parks and trees. This includes the reduction of depression, obesity, hypertension and other mental and physical health issues.
It is hoped that this scheme will connect people, especially children, to their environment and encourage walking or cycling in the borough. It should also provide uplift to the area, creating leafy green roadways and paths which are filled with blossom through the spring.
Themes of the Wild Way
- habitat connectivity
- leafy paths
- access to nature
- visual barrier
- learning opportunities
Work started with the removal of affected trees in March 2020, prior to bird nesting season.
Road works started in July 2020.
As summer and bird breeding season comes to a close, minor vegetation removal and control has now begun.
Rhododendron and laurel clearance has started in some of the woodland areas. Rhododendron ponticum is an invasive species brought to the UK by the Victorians. It has spectacular flowers and so is popular in people's gardens, but it spreads quickly and easily escapes into the wild. Being a non-native, it does not house, feed or support any of our UK species. To make matters worse, it also ruins the soil by making the ground so acidic and shaded that important microorganisms are killed.
After the removal works, we will replant the areas with native trees, native understorey species and woodland seed. A small dose of microorganisms (mycorrhizal fungi) will be added to the tree roots during planting to make sure they have the best possible start. Alongside the soil bacteria that will be present from the new trees, this should help combat some of the lasting negative effects of rhododendron.
Winter is the best season for tree planting as the cold weather makes the trees go dormant. This is the time when most the tree planting will be carried out across the project. This will include the native larger standard trees, whips and orchard trees.
The hedgerows will be planted up at this time as well and further invasive species clearance will be carried out.