Red Lodge Heath is a special site. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, to be precise. This remnant of nationally important heathland, a habitat which once would have covered large areas of Suffolk, was once a medieval warren where rabbits were raised for meat and fur. There are still plenty of rabbits who make this site their home – but these days they are valuable for helping to maintain the short grassland that is so characteristic of a wildlife rich Breckland heath, rather than for their commercial value!
One might think that visitors would be discouraged from visiting a site that contains such rare delights as Breckland thyme and nationally important invertebrates including the five-banded tailed digger wasp –but far from it. The team of hard working volunteers who form the Red Lodge Conservation Group are keen for people to enjoy this delightful site as much as they do. The group, which was formed in 2007, works in partnership with the land owner, Natural England and Forest Heath District Council to ensure the management of the heath is carried out for wildlife and for the enjoyment of the local community.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust have been working more recently with the group to help local people discover the treasures that the heath has to offer by running family discovery days and working with some of the local schools. The Trust has also been supporting them in gathering up-to-date records of species present on the site which are then fed into county records, and have organised training to help the group and local residents identify Breckland flora.