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Ranger Notes: McAlmont Reserves

Posted: Thursday 1st May 2014 by Nature Notes

The McAlmont Reserves are a group of four sites between Compton and Farncombe which were given to Surrey Wildlife Trust by the Elizabeth McAlmont Memorial Trust in order to safeguard them for nature conservation.

Surrey Wildlife Trust has elected to work towards accreditation under the UK Woodland Assurance Scheme (UKWAS). This nationally recognised scheme is designed to ensure Britain’s woodlands are managed in a way which considers wildlife, access, timber production and the local economy and community.

Many of our sites, of which the McAlmont Reserves are no exception, have challenging terrain and a woodland structure which may be considered uneconomic to manage.

In a change to this year’s proposed woodland management activities, this winter will encompass survey work across the four reserves. The inventory will take account of tree species, age, height, and density, access for people and, where appropriate, tools and machinery and the presence of European Protected Species (eg bats, dormice, Great Crested Newts). Once this inventory has been undertaken we will be in a better place to prepare a management plan which is sustainable in every sense.

We can determine hazel coppice rotations to ensure a sensitive, but productive cycle can be set in motion and identify veteran trees which need extra care, and work out the best way to remove timber and smallwood generated. The management plan then makes it possible to approach the Forestry Commission for grants to fund work which would be considered uneconomic in the short term, but once underway would start to become self- financing. In any case Guildford and Waverley Borough Councils will be kept informed where Tree Preservation Orders or Conservation Areas are in place.

This summer we were delighted to take delivery of a carved stone apple to recognise the legacy left by Kathleen McAlmont, mother of the late Elizabeth McAlmont in whose name the sites were initially dedicated. Elizabeth’s sister Kate Burgoyne commissioned Dorset stonemason Harry Jonas to carve her mother’s name and dates in Chicksgrove Stone. The apple sits, appropriately, at Kathleen McAlmont’s grave-side in The Orchard, Compton.

Leo Jennings

Ranger, South Team

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