|Surrey Hills Conservation Volunteers|
|Surrey Hills Conservation Volunteers - Conserving the Surrey Countryside|
The work we do is very varied and is dependent on the season. During the winter months most of our work is woodland management, e.g. coppicing (an ancient technique which encourages wood regrowth and regenerates the woodland flowers such as bluebells), hedge-laying and general scrub clearance
In the summer months, we get more involved with construction work; mending fences, building stiles and installing gates. Helping the regeneration of ponds during the summer provides a good opportunity to get very muddy!! Other activities include path and rights of way clearing.
While most people think of “commons” as open grassy landscapes, this one is mostly woodland and has some particularly big old trees. It also has some open meadows, thorn scrub, streams and a chain of ponds. Owned by the National Trust, its rich wildlife has also been extensively studied by the London Natural History Society. We do a variety of woodland management work here.
Close to Guildford, this area is undergoing clearance of rhododendron, to return the site to its former state. We also perform boundary and access work here.
On the steep south-facing scarp of the North Downs, above Gomshall, this site has both chalk grassland and woodland and is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. We have done a variety of work here including fencing, scrub clearance and tree planting.
Not far from the chalk of the North Downs, but this site is actually on the Greensand and has very different flora, including some heathland. Leith Hill is the highest point in southeast England and is known for its viewpoint with tower at the summit. Work here has included scrub clearance and footpath work.
Another large site whose management recently passed from Surrey County Council to the Surrey Wildlife Trust, Norbury Park is on the Downs above Fetcham. It has extensive woodlands, parkland and farmlands and includes the slopes down to the valley of the River Mole. It also has its own sawmill and the wellknown activity centre at Bocketts Farm. Our work here includes coppicing, scrub clearance. ash clearing and path/hedging work.
Ockham Common/Chatley Heath
Two heathland sites on opposite sides of the A3 on sandy soils just outside the M25, our work here is usually removing young pine and birch trees to prevent the heather being shaded out. Additionally on Chatley, we have been rhody clearing.
St Marthas Hill
A couple of miles SE of Guildford, St Marthas Hill is a wooded area with a church at the summit. We have done a variety of woodland management work here.
A site near West Horsley on the gentle northern slopes of the chalk downs. Sheepleas used to be mainly mature forest but many big trees were toppled in the 1987 Great Storm. This was far from a disaster as the ash woodland is regenerating strongly and some mature beeches remain. There are also meadows with chalk grassland, noted for butterflies and cowslips. A scenic and complex area with a network of meandering paths and tracks, Sheepleas is now managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. Our regular work here has included coppicing, thinning, post and rail fencing, and cutting back scrub to keep paths clear.
This quiet area, just off the A25, has seen a large number of varied tasks recently - including coppicing around the ponds, path restoration and construction of barriers around the pond to prevent dogs from jumping in.
West Hanger area
Above Silent Pool on the North Downs Way, this area of woodland generally gets coppiced or some areas will be cleared to encourage regeneration of the chalk grassland.
North of Guildford, Whitmoor Common has a variety of habitats but is most notable for its lowland heath which is one of the most endangered habitat types in the UK. Work here is often aimed at conserving the heathlands (and their rare fauna, including reptiles) by removing encroaching birch and pine trees.