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Monstrous fish and suffocating scrub eradicated!
Monstrous fish and suffocating scrub have been removed from Wisley and Ockham Commons by Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT), which manages them on behalf of SCC. The commons, a mixture of heathland and woodland and including Boldermere Lake, are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Local Nature Reserve (LNR) and Special Protection Area (SPA), because of the rare and important wildlife found there.
Boldermere Lake supports a wide range of aquatic plants, invertebrates and insects (including dragonflies and damselflies), which provide food for birds and bats. But it also has some unwelcome, non-native residents – carp in particular - that are upsetting the balance of this fragile ecosystem and threatening the survival of its native species. So, SWT embarked on a lake biodiversity project, funded by Natural England, to restore the lake by removing these fish with the help of MEM Fisheries. Some staggeringly enormous fish were retrieved - competition even for Nessy – with mega mouths capable of serious damage! The list included: 16 common carp (the fattest a whopping 31 lbs), 7 mirror carp (the biggest over 27lbs), 12 pike (between 2-6lbs) and 9 bream (between 7-9lbs). The fish were health-checked and moved to a fishery where they will be properly looked after.
Gemma Grant, SWT ranger, said: “These non-native fish have been a problem at Wisley and Ockham Commons, attracting illegal fishing and eating pond vegetation and insects. If we were to leave them in such large, unnatural numbers, they would eventually adversely affect the water quality and biodiversity of Boldermere Lake.”
It’s not just the fish that are unwelcome; silver birch and Scots pine saplings have been invading the precious heathland, out-competing the fragile plants and changing the habitat that many rare animals (including nightjar, woodlark and reptiles such as adders) have become reliant on. The heather plants are still so small and sensitive that it would be damaging to take large machinery onto the heathland to remove the trees - which are hindering the heather’s regeneration.
So, SWT enlisted the help of the Surrey & Sussex Probation Trust (SSPT) which manages offenders on the Community Payback scheme. They came out every week during the autumn and winter, to carry out practical heathland restoration tasks, including scrub and tree removal. The eight offenders (supported by a supervisor) have done an amazing job of restoring over 15 acres of Wisley Common and Ockham Heath.
Gemma Grant, SWT ranger, said: “The public have been really supportive when they’ve seen the Surrey and Sussex Probation Team out on the heath, often commenting on what a great job they were doing, and the lads get a lot back from a bit of fresh air and practical work. I really can't wait for them to begin again next winter, when we're out of bird nesting season.”
Rosie Martin, SSPT Community Payback Manager said: “SSPT manages offenders on the Community Payback scheme as part of their sentence. We always look for projects which will provide hard work for offenders but at the same time provide a real and visible benefit to the community and the work for Surrey Wildlife Trust does exactly that. The offenders have the chance to give something back to the community, and there are strong signs that this type of work stops people re-offending.”
|Date published:||Tuesday 17 April 2012|