Tree planting brings Ecosulis rewilding vision for Dorney a step closer to reality

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In 2020, Ecosulis was commissioned by Thames Water to develop a “pocket rewilding” vision and management plan for a 22-hectare site in Dorney, Buckinghamshire (two miles west of Eton). The site, which had been grazed by horses until 2015, would eventually have reverted to dense, low biodiversity scrub without intervention. 

The Ecosulis rewilding vision for Dorney, which seeks to create a rich and dynamic rewilding area and precious natural asset for the local community, came a step closer to reality recently with the planting of over 12,000 saplings and trees at the site. Members of the Ecosulis habitats and rewilding teams assisted Thames Water personnel and volunteers with the planting, which involved UK native oak, rowan, apple, lime, elder and dog rose varieties.  

Becky Elliot, Thames Water’s Biodiversity Manager, was present at the planting.  

“It has been nearly two years since I first visited the Thames Water site at Dorney and realised its potential for contributing to our biodiversity net gain performance and nature recovery ambition. It was so exciting to be involved in the planting and I can’t wait to see how the site becomes wilder over the next decade.” 

Elliot says the Ecosulis vision and management plan for Dorney – which was aligned with our rewilding principles – has been well received inside Thames Water and by company stakeholders.  

“Ecosulis brought a different perspective to the recovery of Dorney, producing a unique management plan that was more visionary and less prescriptive than our regular plans, with decreasing human intervention over time.” 

Thames Water are also trialling the Ecosulis Biodiversity Quality Index (BQI), an updated version of the Ecosulis Biodiversity Quality Calculator (BQC), which further aligns with the Defra Metric 3.0. 

“The index looks to create a new ecological baseline for an area and then monitors changes in composition, structure and function,” says Elliot. “This is different from Defra’s Biodiversity Net Gain calculator, which only looks at habitat changes over time and fails to take account of the unpredictability of rewilding. I am keen to compare data from the Defra metric and Ecosulis calculator at Dorney, and to demonstrate how important rewilding is in enabling nature recovery, even at ‘pocket’ scale.” 

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