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.
December 15 2014: Bronze dofe conservation on Redhill Common: clearing invading non-native trees and opening up clearings pathside to improve light for a greater biodiversity of species and improved habitat. The group worked hard and achieved significant improvements in the natural habitat of Redhill Common. RGS has been improving local habitats for more than 7 years now under the expert guidance of Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers. If you would like to help with active local habitat conservation then visit RACV at http://www.racv.org.uk/
Reigate Grammar saves the world… starting in our back yard!
On Tuesday 1st April the new Bronze dofe students embarked on their first conservation day. This one was at PetridgeWood between Salfords and Earlswood. It is near the cricket pitch visible from the main road. This was an area of mixed woodland and open ground allowing certain rare native plants to thrive. Scrub encroachment has caused a loss of biodiversity and the conservation group worked hard to clear trees to recreate the diverse heath previously found here. The group worked exceptionally hard throughout the day and the RACV were most impressed, as was the local authority countryside warden who inspected our work. The team listened especially well to advice and learned a great deal about safe and efficient felling and clearing, as well as open fire safety.
Well done team, RGS saving the world again, starting in our own back yard!
The next conservation day is on Tuesday 8 July and will be to a wetland environment so be ready to get wet!
Dec 17 2013: Final Bronze conservation day at a Copse wood in Earlswood, Reigate. After a full technical briefing on techniques and reasons for coppicing woodland and a safety talk from Simon Elson (RACV) 25 students set to work on old and declining hazel and birch coppice along a path circling an ancient woodland. Working effectively in teams they successfully coppiced a long row of hazels and cleared the brashings onto a fire and stored logs and branches of different sizes for a hedge maker to come along later and use. We were joined today by local wardens from SCC and a professional hedge layer and hurdle maker who all congratulated our students on their excellent progress and attitude to the task.
Well done to all the team who have completed their dofe Bronze conservation and have been an excellent group throughout.
26 RGS Bronze DofE students spent the day working on Nutfield Marsh nature reserve improving habitats. The moors area of the wetlands has no public right of way and the group was given special access to conduct important conservation work with RACV (Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers). The students removed invasive typha (bullrushes) from the water courses. This gives native species a better chance of success and improves the habitat for migratory birds, amphibians, grass snakes and insects. The group worked extremely effectively all day and did a fantastic job, really working in a spirited manner, working together, despite the inclement weather. Their last excursion to Reigate Heath won the praise of the local council. Well done folks, another impressive day out SAVING THE WORLD in your own back yard by improving habitats for plants and animals … one-small-step-at-a-time.
28 RGS DofE students starting their Bronze Award completed a full day of conservation activities on Reigate Heath. They worked hard all day and staff from RACV and school were most impressed with their team work. They were instructed by Simon Elson from RACV on safe working and the purpose of conservation on Reigate Heath and then they got to work. A large number of Silver Birch trees were removed to encourage the regrowth of rare acid heathland flora, a habitat which supports several threatened and rare birds, reptiles and insects . Well done to all the students who took part: we were impressed by your enthusiastic approach to the tasks!
20 4th Year students braved sub-zero temperatures to do some valuable conservation work on Redhill Common. They “scalloped” the edges of a footpath, previously over-grown, to create a more attractive and secure avenue for walkers through the woods. The felling of invasive alien sycamore and laurel improves the habitat for native species such as oak, silver birch and hawthorn, allowing light to penetrate to the forest floor giving younger saplings and woodland flowers a chance to grow through and thrive. In addition, the edge habitats thus created improve niches for nesting birds and raptors to feed in woodland glades. Creating a patchwork of habitats improves the diversity of species in an area. Felled logs and brashings left lying give reptiles, hibernating insects and amphibians a safe environment and food availability for higher species of birds and woodland mammals. Our students did an excellent job today and achieved significant progress in very cold conditions: well done!
Twenty three 3rd Year Bronze students did their first conservation day on the hottest day of the year so far. We visited Mercers Park and cleared invasive willow and scrub from the banks of a brook. Students also got wet and muddy clearing a choked stream full of logs and junk. They did an excellent job on their first time out doing conservation. RGS Staff and RACV volunteers were pleased with their commitment to some hard work and willingness to learn some new skills. Well done!
Redhill Common: north slope at the pond site. 30 students cleared scrub and trees from the north side of the pond. A significant area was cleared and they all worked hard and with enthusiasm. Small branches were burned and log piled up for collection. This task follows on from previous visits to open out this area and reinstate a grassland surrounding the pond which itself is planned for restoration in the future. Clearance of trees and scrub might at first appear destructive but it increases habitat diversity for various plants and animals along the forest edges created. Edge habitats are often more productive and the grassland will encourage new birds, insects and small mammmals, as well as bats. The glade will also provide a more attractive environment for people walking through the woods.
Nutfield Marshes: 30 pupils were praised for their excellent conservation work on clearing a channel of choking typha reeds. They formed a big team and worked hard together both in the stream and on dry land clearing willow coppice. They were a superb bunch and were highly regarded as one of the best RGS conservation teams that Reigate Area Conservation Volunteers has seen. Very well done folks!
If you want to do MORE conservation in your own time … contact Mr Collins for RACV details: YOU can save the World, starting in your own back yard!