Wickham Commons December Newsletter

Station Road Car Park – Feasibility Study
29th November 2019
West Wickham Residents Association
WWRA Supporting Local Charities – CASPA
15th December 2019
The latest news from the West Wickham Commons team
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December 2019

Welcome to the West Wickham Commons Newsletter covering West Wickham Common and Spring Park.

Continuing the coppicing tradition 

Located in the centre of Spring Park’s Ancient Woodland lies a belt of hazel shrubs growing under a canopy of oak. Every winter volunteers from the local community meet to ‘coppice’ a section of this hazel. The wood is divided into ten areas or ‘coups’, equal to the number of years in the cycle, so the volunteers cut one area each year until they are back at the beginning. Coppicing is great for wildlife as it allows light into the woods, causing a burst of growth and flowering of the woodland plants, increasing the diversity of species and creating a variety of vegetation heights within the wood. A coppiced woodland will encourage a wide diversity of insects, plants and animals to flourish such as woodland edge butterflies.

If tree planting is the answer, what is the question?

In the last few months, tree planting has burst onto the environmental and political agenda, with pledges to plant thousands of new trees in the UK to help lock up carbon and tackle climate change. Indeed, people in their thousands took part in tree planting days up and down the country as part of National Tree week in late November. Reforestation is vital for recovering much of the land cleared due to development.

However, the effort to restore our woodlands and hedges needs to be balanced with the needs of biodiversity. Restoring and managing other habitats are just as important and, in some cases, the last line of defence for rare wildlife. Take chalk grassland for example. With over 50% of it located in the UK, it is Europe’s most threatened habitat. The species within it, such as the Chalkhill Blue butterfly, are so uniquely suited to this one habitat that without conserving these, the species would likely go extinct. Grasslands also lock up carbon below the ground in the soil and have the highest combined carbon stock of any UK habitat type. The variety of habitats on the Commons means that often scrub and trees are coppiced or cleared to restore and improve biodiversity. Whilst a positive step in addressing climate change and the environmental wrongs of the past, tree planting areas need to be carefully chosen to avoid harming biodiversity.

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas

The Rangers would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We hope that many of you get time over the festive break to get outside and onto one of the Commons.As we approach a new year, we would like to extend a big thank you to all our volunteers for their support in 2019. Your help in managing the Commons through conserving habitats, running events and checking livestock is greatly appreciated. We look forward to seeing you all in 2020.

For further information:
Tel: 01372 279083

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