Hanwell Wine Estate in Hickling Pastures has partnered with Nottingham University’s Conservation Society to create a hibernaculum, offering a warm, safe place for newts to hibernate over the winter. It is the intention to help provide natural pest control at the vineyard by attracting wildlife such as newts and other types of amphibians like frogs and toads.
Helenka Brown, owner of Hanwell Wine Estate commented: “We are constantly looking for ways both to reduce the environmental impact of our business and to improve the habitat for wildlife. Our local community is important to us, and that includes the local wildlife. By creating hibernacula around our lake we hope to attract amphibians to join us in living on the vineyard and to help protect the vines by eating pests like slugs and snails during the Spring and Summer. This will contribute to our commitment to keep our use of pesticides to the minimum, helping reassure our customers that they are drinking hand-produced wine which has been grown as naturally as possible.”
The partnership between the Conservation Society and Hanwell Wine Estate has been organised by Andrew Whitelee, lecturer at Bishop Burton College, owner of Verdant Wildlife and Wildlife Consultant for Hanwell Wine Estate. Mr Whitelee and the students spent the last day of November creating the winter hideaway. Having selected a suitable site, the existing vegetation was cleared and a hole (measuring approximately two meters in diameter and 30cm deep) was dug and lined with layers of brambles, chopped logs and stones. The team was able to make use of some old vine guards to provide entrance holes, taking care to angle them so that rain water will not run in. Once completed, the pile was sealed with earth.
“I am delighted that we have created the first hibernaculum at the vineyard and so proud of the students”, said Mr Whitelee. “The site at Hanwell Wine Estate is ideal and a really positive step for natural pest control. We hope to establish another five hibernacula around the lake over the coming months.”