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Heathland Restoration on Whitmoor

Posted: Friday 22nd April 2016 by Volunteering

By Marcus Wehrle

Volunteers have done some tremendous work over the winter helping Ranger Guy Kent to tackle sub-licence scrub on Whitmoor Common.

Numerous groups have been involved, including the South Team vollies, The Whitmoor Common Association, local scouts and also staff from corporates like Allianz and Semafone (both based in Guildford).

The Common has benefitted greatly by this work. Scrub and landscapes have been cleared and the Bronze Age barrow (a registered ancient monument) has been restored and preserved.

The Common has benefitted greatly by volunteer work

Tree and scrub clearance is an essential part of habitat management on the common, ensuring that the heath can be maintained and prevented from reverting to secondary woodland and losing this globally scarce habitat called Lowland Heathland.

The Bronze Age barrow is an example of a funerary monument of the Early Bronze Age, which most likely dates to the period 1400-1200BC. Disc barrows are nationally rare, with 250 known sites, so preservation of the barrow on Whitmoor is extremely important. More information can be found on Historic England website:

During winter months nightjars retreat to Africa, while woodlark and Dartford warblers head to Europe

Winter and summer seasons bring great differences to Whitmoor Common. The harsh summer sun dries out the sandy soils creating desert conditions ideal for the myriad of insects that scuttle about the sandy soils, darting underneath stick and stones to hide from the ever watchful birds. Conversely, heathlands are bleak places in the winter; the open landscape gives no escape from biting winds nor does it show any compassion for the remaining inhabitants of the heath with shelter and food both in short supply. Because of these reasons the three species of summer visiting ground nesting birds that are special to our heath have retreated to sunnier climes. Nightjars back to Africa, Woodlark and Dartford warblers to continental Europe. 

Because wildlife is less active during the winter months, it gave us a chance to carry out some vital habitat work across the commons. We are currently in the 6th year of a 10 year HLS (Higher Level Stewardship) agreement with Natural England to maintain and enhance the heathland for the best benefit of wildlife. All assistance from our volunteers has helped us to work towards reaching our targets set out in this agreement. 

Many thanks to all our volunteers for your hard work, enthusiasm and camaraderie! 

Guy Kent


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