What’s happening on Headley Heath?

Conservation work on Headley Heath Surrey

Well, what a busy winter we’ve had on Headley...

Gorse management plan

We started the winter with this year’s instalment of the gorse management plan. We removed another few sections of gorse across the Heath. This will open up the site and improve the scrub habitat for a range of species.

Linked to the gorse work contractors came in after Christmas and produced some scrapes on the heath. This is a fantastic way to remove undesirable species such as bracken and bramble and promote heathers and acid grassland species. Over the next year or two you’ll be able to see tiny heather plants germinate.

The piles of spoil will soon be removed once the ground dries.

Tree felling project

You can’t fail to notice that the first year of our felling project is under way. We’ve cleared some areas with contractors and others with our hard working volunteers.

Already the views are opening up and the connectivity between areas of chalk grassland has improved. This project has another four years to go. The change will be quite dramatic and have a real positive impact across Headley.

I look forward to seeing the first dog violet or wild strawberry flower on the newly cleared areas and then the gradual spread of the rock rose and wild thyme.

Grazing cattle

All these newly cleared areas will require management and to that end we’re bringing the cattle back, grazing the heath as they did years ago.

A system of invisible fencing (similar to the one on television’s Countryfile) will be installed to hold the cattle in the Fifth and Sixth valley during the winter. In the summer they’ll be moved up onto the heath and graze each side alternately. There’ll be eight animals belonging to the Surrey Wildlife Trust, each wearing a collar, and they’ll graze the site permanently.

Look out for signs around the Heath telling you which area the cattle are in and which area you’re in. There’ll also be maps on all our notice boards showing the extent of the grazing compartments to help you plan your route.

Lots of work to keep our volunteers busy

The work won’t let up this summer, with plenty to keep our team of volunteers busy. If you’d like to join in then, please contact me and I assure you that you’ll be more than welcome.

I look forward to seeing you out on the Heath – I’m out with our volunteers every Thursday and Friday as well as the odd weekend. Check out our notice boards for more information.

Henry Barnard
Area Ranger Headley Heath

Mob: 07342 080109