VOLUNTEERS have won an award for managing Ali’s Pond local nature reserve in Sonning.
The Friends of Ali’s Pond won the small scale practical nature conservation category at the Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management awards ceremony in Birmingham.
The awards recognise high standards of professionalism and ecological and environmental management practice.
Small-scale projects are defined as costing less than £25,000 and the entrants were judged on their contribution to the conservation of wildlife, the provision of multiple benefit to society and the promotion of sustainable development principles.
Professor Alastair Driver, founder of Ali’s Pond and co-ordinator of the Friends group, said: “We are all absolutely delighted with this award.
“It recognise hundreds of man hours of hard graft by local residents over the last 20 years to make this site the special place it is for people and wildlife.”
Sonning Parish Council, which owns the land, was represented at the ceremony by Councillor Trefor Fisher who said: “The council is thrilled with the recognition of what has been achieved by the Friends of Ali’s Pond group over the years. Through local community action and fund-raising, the Friends have turned a formerly largely neglected and often fly-tipped area into a superb wildlife reserve which is extremely popular with the local community, not least the schools and Baden-Powell groups who use it for pond-dipping and other nature study activities.”
The one acre site in the village centre was created in the late Nineties by Prof Driver, whom the site is named after, in collaboration with the council.
The reserve consists of a large pond surrounded by a wildflower meadow and native tree and shrub planting.
Since its establishment, the site has become home to a wide variety of wildlife including rare or declining species such as the great crested newt, harvest mouse, song thrush, ragged robin and pipistrelle bat.
The site was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2001, giving it a form of protection in law.