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Supported Learning students work with The Conservation Volunteers

Saturday 24 June 2023
Arif Siddiqi, Supported Learning teacher along with his tutor group, have so far spent 3 weeks volunteering with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) on the river crane, which runs between Twickenham and Feltham.

TCV have been carrying out conservation work along the river to prepare the riverbanks for the reintroduction of water voles.

One way of preparing the banks for the voles is by removing Himalayan Balsam, an invasive plant which was first introduced in the UK during the Victorian era thanks to its pretty flowers.

However, the plants grow vigorously, especially close to water courses smothering native species. This means the voles and other small mammals, especially water voles, are vulnerable to predation through lack of native plant cover and reduced food sources.

Arif is proud of his student's hard work and motivation to help the conservation team, saying, “The students really enjoyed being out in the forest and riverside removing the Himalayan balsam.

“They got a great sense of achievement from clearing a large area of the riverside and from using the tools to clear pathways of briar and other intrusive weeds. All the students found this to be a peaceful release from the stresses of the classroom especially as the weather was fantastic.

“We have attended 2 of 3 sessions at Crane Park and am in discussions with TVC to explore further opportunities volunteering at an additional site as well as to progress one of our students to a bootcamp with TVC, aimed at training them for a career in parks and countryside maintenance.

“TVC are keen to receive volunteers to work over the summer at Avenue Park in Cranford on a similar project.”

The team have one more week of conservation work until the area is ready for the vole's release.

TVC works with people across the UK to curate healthier, cleaner and healthier communities.

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