Sunday, 10 February 2013

An introduction to Gatwick’s Greenspaces...

Gatwick Airport, its boundaries and our two main zones of conservation focus

Gatwick Airport is its own thriving town or city; just ask anyone who works here. It also happens to be an island surrounded by the beautiful Sussex and Surrey countryside; a very rare position for such a large specimen of airport... If you take an OS map you may be surprised by the amount of undeveloped land which exists here, also the number of public footpaths passing through habitats such as woodland, grassland, floodplain meadow and wild ponds. With such a range of habitats the resulting variety of wildlife is quite astounding, and seemingly unperturbed by busy air traffic. I am continually updating Gatwick’s wildlife records database which we began in summer 2012 (anyone who enjoys a spot of data entry do drop me a line) and I am excitedly anticipating what we might find each season. These records are shared with our local biodiversity record centres which collectively hold copious information on the species and habitats of the UK.

River Mole North of the runway

Our ultimate goal is to protect and improve what we can in terms of the existing natural habitats and species diversity on Gatwick landholdings. Over the decades Gatwick Airport has become ever busier, but equally people have been working ever harder to preserve its greener zones. Thanks largely to volunteers from the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership, the British Airways Engineering volunteers, the Sussex Wildlife Trust, helpful individual naturalists and the companies JS Agriculture Ltd and Ecology and Habitat Management Ltd, we are now making a concerted combined effort to achieve The Wildlife Trust’s Biodiversity Benchmark Award. 

                                Grassland and woodland habitat along the River Mole