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Secret weapon to save woodlands

A special species of millipede found in an ancient woodland in Suffolk is one of a number of animals and plants that could be affected if a plan to build a line of electricity pylons gets the go ahead.

A secret cyanide agent works undercover to protect ancient woodland

This flatback species of millipede, known as Propolydesmus testaceus, secretes repellents containing cyanide to ward off unwanted visitors! This secretive creature is typically found amongst leaf litter, rotting wood and under bark.

Millipedes are amongst a variety of creatures found in Hintlesham Woods. Their feeding habits promotes decomposition amongst the woodland floor where they put valuable nutrients back into the soil.

However, these woods in Suffolk are facing a troubling proposal that could put the woodland in grave danger.

National Grid’s new Bramford to Twinstead power connection in Suffolk has retained an option to run a new transmission line through the area, which could see a swathe cut through the woods.

This would result in the destruction of parts of one of Suffolk’s largest ancient woodland.

Ancient woodlands are classified as having had continuous cover since at least 1600 AD.

Mark Nowers, RSPB Warden said: “The pylons would destroy part of the woods, split the remainder into separate parts and form a barrier to movement for plants and animals.

“These woods support a huge array of wildlife, from the fantastic millipede species, flora and fauna and important bird populations. They are also home to green hellebore, herb-paris and wild service trees, plants that are rarely found outside of ancient woodlands.”

“We know these woods are incredibly special, and we simply cannot re-create their splendour elsewhere. Species like Propolydesmus testaceus are a vital part of the ecosystem of this ancient woodland, but they are vulnerable to disturbance. If this proposal goes ahead, it will have an enormous impact on their future.”

Mark Nowers will be holding a walk on 5 May for members of the public who would like to learn more about the amazing Propolydesmus testaceus and the other species under threat in the woods.

For more information or to attend the walk on 5 May, please get in touch with Mark on 07850 772517

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