An invitation to go wild at Peters Village

By popular demand, Kent Wildlife Trust has staged its first guided tour of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at Peters Village and its rare flora and fauna habitats.

The Peters Pit SSSI was designated in 2000 by Natural England, notably for preservation of a Great Crested Newt (pictured below) colony – one of the finest in the UK – but the 29 hectare/71 acre site is also home to many other rare species including the dormouse, bats, orchids and butterflies.

The site habitats include ponds and broad-leaved woodland that favour particular species and is managed by Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) with funding by Peters Village developer Trenport.

The inaugural tour was held on Saturday 21 September and a full report will be published here at www.petersvillage.co.uk shortly.

More tours will be scheduled though and if you want to express an interest, please contact KWT Medway Valley Warden Steve Weeks stephen.weeks@kentwildlife.org.uk

Steve Weeks said: “Technically, the Peters Pit SSSI is off limits to the general public in the interests of conservation of rare species like the newts, but there has been unauthorised access by dog walkers and others so, short of erecting an unfeasibly high fence, we hope these guided tours will help spread the word about admiring their wonderful natural asset from afar in future (SSSI pond pictured left). This approach has certainly worked at other sites we manage.

“And that’s not to say that residents of Peters Village and the surrounding area cannot be inspired by the SSSI to further encourage wild species in their gardens and open spaces.”

He quoted a list of ideas:

  • Plant native shrubs, trees and wildflowers like verbascum , scabious, and hawthorn to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects.
  • Build a hedgehog house – help this declining species by creating a hog house, instructions can be found on the Wildlife Trust’s website https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-hedgehog-home. Hedgehogs can help in return by rooting out insect pests and slugs.Hedgehog house illustration
  • Make or buy bird boxes – try https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-nesting-box-birds.
  • Feed the birds,  advice on the best way to do this can be found at https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-feed-birds-your-gardenCreate a 'wild' pond rather than a high maintenance goldfish type; great for amphibians like frogs, toads and newts and they will help keep the garden pest population down too
  • Help to preserve the Peters Pit nature reserve by joining practical volunteer days with the warden – please use the above contract details.

“The SSSI at Peters Village is a unique asset and one we are very proud of,” said Trenport Director Chris Hall. “But rather than go to draconian lengths to keep people out, we would rather encourage these tours to help publicise the need to respect this special open space, so that it continues to foster and maintain many rare species – with a helping hand.”

He added that such helping hands have included newt fences and tunnels (pictured below) introduced by Trenport under KWT’s direction, to help keep the Great Crested Newts from wandering into harm on local roads and tracks.