Foxearth Meadows is A Rocha UK’s rural nature reserve, comprising 11 and a half acres of wetland on the River Stour floodplain in north Essex. We also run an urban nature reserve, Wolf Fields in Southall, West London. Our aim is to work with local Churches and the wider community to create safe places for people and nature; and to demonstrate how it is possible to care for God’s creation on small pieces of rural and urban land in a way which inspires and enables others to do the same. You are very welcome to visit any time, individually or in a group. See below for details.
Foxearth Meadows is a small oasis for wildlife in the midst of a much larger intensively farmed region. Already 460 species of plants, fungi, mammals, molluscs, birds and insects have now been recorded at Foxearth Meadows – and counting! The rapidly increasing data is regularly submitted to Essex Wildlife Trust Biological Recording Centre. Experiments in cattle-grazing and mowing regimes are improving the floral diversity of the grasslands and dense blackthorn and hawthorn scrub has been laid to benefit nesting birds. Continuing care and careful habitat management will no doubt see more and new species taking up residence.
A Refuge for Wildlife
In February 2015, A Rocha UK became proud owners of this reserve on the Essex/Suffolk border. Since 1997, the site had been managed by A Rocha UK supporters Keith and Maureen Morris. Following Keith’s death, A Rocha UK was able to buy the site, thanks to Maureen’s generosity. Maureen donated the proceeds to A Rocha Czech Republic, to assist a major project there.
Foxearth Meadows is already home to many dragonflies and damselflies – 23 different species have so far been recorded – close to half the species recorded in the UK. That’s a significant number, given the size of the site.
Known technically as ‘Odonata’, these spectacular insects are indicators of healthy, productive freshwater habitats with abundant insect prey. Odonata are also sensitive to climate change. The arrival of new species, such as the Willow Emerald Damselfly, in the UK points to a warming climate.
‘Habitat loss and climate change mean Foxearth Meadows is already a refuge for depleted wildlife. Places like this will enable our countryside to return to a richer natural environment.’ Mark Prina, Foxearth Meadows Reserve Manager
Our Reserve Manager is overseeing a reserve management plan that will create and sustain a blend of open water, shaded pools, reed beds and healthy plant life for these insects. Many other plants and creatures flourish in this environment, for example several threatened bird species reside here – including the hobby – a small falcon. Not surprisingly, its favourite food is dragonflies. A warm July day sees three or more hobby ‘hawking’ in the sky.
It’s important to A Rocha UK that everyone has access to enjoy nature’s bounty here.
Our boardwalk, opened in late 2018, lifts the previously flood-prone Public Footpath above the marsh and enables visitors to get much closer to the different habitats on the site all-year round, without disturbing the wildlife. The boardwalk, part-funded by Essex County Council, is made of recycled plastic, meaning less plastic being lost into our rivers and oceans. The plastic will last much longer than wood and doesn’t leach chemicals into the soil.
There is a car park and an eco toilet on site.
Our message? Make time to marvel at God’s earth. Come along and enjoy the wonder of Foxearth Meadows Nature Reserve! And consider what you or your church might be able to do with the local community on a small piece of land near you.
Contact Mark Prina, Reserve Manager for group visits and other enquiries: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07548 209652.