Portsmouth Water and Havant Borough Council are working together to establish a new memorial woodland this year on land at the site for the proposed Havant Thicket Reservoir.
The scheme, which is part of the overall reservoir project, will see more than three thousand trees planted by the summer, creating an enhanced green space just off Swanmore Road in Warren Park, next to where the reservoir is set to be built. The aim is to give local people a place to visit for quiet reflection, in particular, to remember family, friends and others who have passed away.
At the same time, the additional trees will create a valuable new wildlife habitat, providing connection between other areas of woodland nearby and further afield. This means that birds and mammals, such as dormice and bats, will be able to move around and feed more easily.
Creating a memorial woodland is the brainchild of Councillor Prad Bains, Havant Borough’s Deputy Mayor. Councillor Bains said: "The planting of the memorial woodland offers a peaceful place, accessible to all, that enhances local biodiversity and wildlife. Importantly, we want the woodland to be a further way of commemorating those who served in the two World Wars and other conflicts and we are developing a plan around this. This includes an educational aspect, teaching young people about our area’s connection to the armed forces and their service for our country. It’s a real privilege to have seen this project literally grow and I can’t wait for everyone to be able to enjoy this pocket of beauty in Havant”.
Tracey Viney, Environment & Biodiversity Specialist at Portsmouth Water, also commented: “We are delighted to be working with Havant Borough Council to create a really special place for people to enjoy for decades to come. As part of our Havant Thicket Reservoir scheme, the new woodland will provide an improved space in which to enjoy nature and take the time to think and remember loved ones and others. It will also be a real boost for the local environment, with Natural England and Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust both supportive of our plans.”
A mixture of different types of trees will be planted, including 100 that are already three metres high, which will help the woodland to establish a good structure more quickly. The trees will also be protected by deer fencing.
The Havant Thicket site is owned by Portsmouth Water and is currently mainly made up of grazed grassland, with small areas of trees. It’s open to the public to walk in, watch birds and explore, via a network of paths. The existing access paths will remain open.
The company has included a proposal to build a reservoir on the site in its future plans to increase the resilience of water supplies in the water-stressed South East and provide new wetland wildlife habitats and community and leisure facilities. By planting now, the woodland has time to become established and provide habitats long before any steps are taken to progress the reservoir.