Managing natural habitats

Wildlife conservation

Managing natural habitats

© Surrey Wildlife Trust

Surrey Wildlife Trust manages over 8000ha of land across Surrey, including some of the county's top nature reserves.

The sites under our care are home to a wide range of habitats and wildlife and include ancient woodland, heathland, species rich grassland and wetland.

These landscapes require careful monitoring and a range of techniques to ensure that they are managed and improved for wildlife, as well as safely accessible to the public. Aided by an army of volunteers, the Trust's countryside team spend their time caring for our sites.

Our key land management partners include Surrey County Council, Mole Valley District Council and the Ministry of Defence. We also work with a range of private landowners to advise them on managing their sites for wildlife.

Sites under our care

Surrey's special habitats

Despite our proximity to London, Surrey remains one of the country's most biodiverse counties, with a stunning mixture of landscapes from the chalk meadows of the North Downs, to the vast heathlands of the Thames Basin. 

Internationally rare heathland

Surrey has over 3,500 hectares of this internationally important habitat and the Trust cares for 64% of it.

The Trust manages several important heathland sites including Wisley & Ockham Commons and Chobham Common - the largest National Nature Reserve (NNR) in the south east.

Lowland heathland is only found along the fringes of northern Europe and is protected under European legislation. Without active management, open heathland quickly reverts to woodland, leading to the loss of habitat for important species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, sand lizard and smooth snake.

Our Conservation Grazing Project is just one example of the way that we have reintroduced traditional management practices to reverse the decline of heathland.

England's most wooded county

Surrey has over 12,000ha of ancient woodland, of which the Trust manages some 1,300ha. Many of these sites are legally protected.

Woodlands are important refuges to a number of important species including mammals such as dormice, butterflies like the purple emperor and a whole host of ground flora such as wood anemones, lesser celandine and early purple orchids.

The Trust undertakes a comprehensive woodland management programme, including coppicing, glade creation and sustainable harvesting of timber. We are also in the process of carrying out a county wide inventory of the Trust's ancient woodland.

River networks

Several important river catchments are found in Surrey. These include the Mole, Wey and Thames and their various tributaries.

Many of these river systems pass through our sites, but we also work to improve wetland landscapes across Surrey through our RiverSearch project.

Surrey's rivers are on the road to recovery, and we are working hard to bring back iconic species such as otters and water voles.

Become a member to continue our work

Nature is in trouble. Becoming a member is the best way to support our work protecting the wildlife you love in Surrey.

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