Grant will help rare snails feel at home in Hillingdon

Wednesday 1st March 2017

Desmoulin's whorl snail (credit Roger Key)Desmoulin's whorl snail (credit Roger Key)

London Wildlife Trust has received a grant of almost £65,000 from Biffa Award to help a rare species of snail thrive at one of the Trust’s west London nature reserves. Desmoulin’s whorl snail is so threatened that it is prioritised for conservation in the government’s UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

The tiny snails depend on humid conditions, typically found at river edges, wet fens and the swampy margins of ponds and ditches, where they live on leaves of tall wetland plants and over-winter in plant litter.

We want to help out the Desmoulin’s whorl snail and give them the chance to thrive here in Hillingdon

Desmoulin’s whorl snails can currently be found living at Hillingdon borough’s Denham Lock Wood, one of only a handful of sites in London that supports the species. However, the snails are threatened by falling water levels as ditches have silted up and sluice gates have failed. Trees need coppicing to prevent over-shading, and scrub must be stopped from encroaching and drying out the land. Falling water levels can also lead to a proliferation of plants which are unsuitable for the snails to live on in winter.

Now, thanks to a grant from Biffa Award, the Trust will be able to survey the spread of the snails at Denham Lock Wood and decide which specific habitat improvements can best help these rare invertebrates. As part of the ‘All in a Whorl’ project, a team of 25 volunteers will work to improve the Wood for Desmoulin’s whorl snail, and contractors will be hired to open up areas of ditch for suitable restoration work. Damaged sluices on the Frays River will also be replaced to allow control of water levels in the Wood.

The Trust will also invite local residents to explore, enjoy and investigate the reserve, with late night glow-worm walks and special snail surveying sessions.

Denham Lock WoodTom Hayward, London Wildlife Trust Reserves Manager, said: “Denham Lock Wood is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and offers a home to many rare and ecologically important species, but the habitat is threatened by sinking water levels. We want to help out the Desmoulin’s whorl snail and give them the chance to thrive here in Hillingdon – and thanks to Biffa Award we can now do that.”

Gillian French, Head of Grants, Biffa Award, said: “This project shows how the Landfill Communities Fund can be a vital source of funding for conservation projects. At Denham Lock Wood the woodland doesn’t just provide a home for wildlife but is also a place where people can freely enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, even if the tiny Desmoulin’s whorl snail can go unnoticed by many visitors!”

Denham Lock Wood contains one of the best examples of wet alder woodland in London and is officially designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), one of only 30 SSSIs in London selected for their important biological interest. Other species likely to benefit from the Trust’s work at Denham Lock Wood include grass snake, Daubenton’s bat, noctule bat, cuckoo, hobby, marsh warbler and reed bunting.

If you would like to help London Wildlife Trust as a volunteer on this project, contact Simon Hawkins, the Trust’s Reserves Officer, on


More information


Biffa Award
Since 1997, Biffa Award has awarded grants totalling more than £156 million to thousands of worthwhile community and environmental projects across the UK. The programme administers money donated by Biffa Group Ltd through the Landfill Communities Fund.

Landfill Communities Fund
The Landfill Communities Fund (LCF) is an innovative tax credit scheme enabling operators (LOs) to contribute money to organisations enrolled with ENTRUST as Environmental Bodies (EBs). EBs use this funding for a wide range of community and environmental projects in the vicinity of landfill sites. LOs are able to claim a credit (currently 5.7%) against their landfill tax liability for 90% of the contributions they make. Since its inception in 1996, over £1.3billion has been spent on more than 51,000 projects across the UK. For further information please visit or see HMRC’s general guide to landfill tax.



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