25 Bronze dofe Third Year students started their conservation volunteering programme today on Reigate Heath local nature reserve. They spent the day working hard clearing invading trees like scots pine, with the aim of restoring the threatened lowland acid heathland habitat which has become rare because of development like roads, housing, recreation and golf courses. This group of students were outstanding in the way they engaged enthusiastically with all the activities: they listened to instructions, worked well together and improved an enormous area. They did the tradition of RGS dofe conservation proud on their very first day of conservation activities … well done!
This lowland acid heath habitat used to cover larger parts of the South East on sandstone areas like Reigate Heath. When grazing stopped trees and scrub invaded and destroyed the heathland. Restoring heathland will improve the habitat and chances for animals like adders, grass snakes, slow worms, lizards and birds like sparrow hawks, crossbills and stonechat to thrive in our otherwise overcrowded part of the country. Reigate Heath is a SSSI – site of special scientific interest, so it is protected from development but the animals and plants still need our help.
The students worked very hard all day raking out the thick nutrient rich soil which smothers heather seeds and stops their growth. Heather likes the nutrient poor sandy soils beneath, so our students raked off the overlying “alien soil” to expose the sandy grey soils.
The students also felled selected trees including some Scots Pine and some Oak and Silver Birch. These pre-selected trees opened up significant glades and will encourage the growth of heath seedlings which have lain dormant for a hundred years.
RGS students have worked on the Heath and elsewhere for nearly 10 years and so they can truly say they have improved local habitats for the benefit of local people and wild plants and animals. We like to say RGS students “Save The World starting in their own backyard”… and they certainly helped save a little tiny bit of Surrey today!
More details here:
Many thanks, as always, to Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers who run the day.
contact Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers (RACV) here http://www.racv.org.uk/