Friday 27 April 2018

Winter break-through

A round up of our autumn and winter works on the biodiversity sites

Proof that the GGP biscuit supply is so good, volunteers will even brave snow storms

While I was keeping warm, dry and caffeinated over the winter, the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership team didn't stop, keeping hard at work on conservation tasks across all of the biodiversity sites.

It is an exciting time for conservation at Gatwick, as we have just renewed our Biodiversity Action Plan for another five years, which includes additional ecological surveys and brand new habitat tasks! Tom Simpson's volunteer program continues to grow year on year, with increasing help from airport staff, local businesses, local conservationists and trainees. It has been statisfying knowing that the Wildlife Trust youth groups and trainees are shadowing Tom in the field, so that his invaluable skills are being passed on to future conservation leaders.

Somehow we never run out of conservation tasks, and here are a few examples of what has been going on over the last few months:

Dormouse box installation with GGP Youth Rangers

Pond weed management on a cold February day; no problem for these guys

Pesky willow stumps in Goat Meadow don't stand in their way

Deer exclusion fence being carefdully removed from the developing coppice woodland

Corporate volunteer teams led by Tom have made a huge difference in improving the access into our woodlands. For every calorie burned in creating board walks and edged steps, a calorie is saved for the general public, our local wildlife, and myself from wading through the winter mud!

New board walks through wet woodland

The Gatwick Greenspace Partnership weekly volunteer crew

Tom Simpson's 'Digital Detox' days are an excellent reminder of how valuable it is to maintain connections with the natural world, simply by engaging in focused activities in outdoor spaces.

Nestlé UK Ltd in Upper Picketts Wood

We have even had a team of ecologists volunteering on our sites, as they know the value in taking a break from the office during the gloomy winter months.

The Ecology Consultancy managing Blackthorn along the River Mole

So once again, we would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of the teams who have visited our sites over the winter; the project simply wouldn't be the same without you!

Both Gatwick Airport staff and businesses from the wider area have helped maintain our sites for wildlife

We aim to carry out as much habitat management with volunteers and hand tools as possible, however some heavier-duty works, such as woodland ride management and dense scrub removal, require the help of the professionals; Glendale Landscape Services and our Wildlife Trust recommended tree surgeons; Roots Upwards Ltd, are well versed in the sensitivities of working on biodiversity sites.

Woodland ride management; this area is a particularly good corridor for foraging bats

Managing woodland rides and glades rotationally creates a dynamic habitat system; while one area is gradually colonised by mature vegetation, another area is opened up, providing new space for early successional species.

Sycamore removal in a woodland glade

Each winter Roots Upwards Ltd have donated us a free day of labour for conservation works. This year they brought along their climbing harnesses and ropes, bringing down the heavy bat hibernation boxes for a much-needed winter clean out. The lads couldn't quite believe their luck when they took down the final box...

A bat hibernation box, recently occupied by Honey Bees

Nothing like a piece of fresh honey comb at the end of a hard day's work

Anyone can get involved with wildlife conservation, whether it is habitat management, learning about wildlife on guided walks, or trying out a digital detox day! Find out more here:

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