Upcoming management works on Mare Hill Common
This winter, we will be clearing gorse and small trees from two heathland areas on Mare Hill Common (please see map below).
Periodic clearance of young trees and old degenerate gorse from heathland is necessary to prevent this habitat becoming overgrown and the specialist species associated with it being lost. Removal of the gorse and scrub will preserve the open character of the landscape, reduce fire risk and create more favourable conditions for the rare wildlife species found on Mare Hill.
There will not be any clearance of mature woodland and most of the scattered mature trees within the areas affected will be selected to remain.
The heathland on Mare Hill is protected under UK and European law, and we are duty bound to maintain it for the rare wildlife species it supports.
We are aiming to complete these works by the end of February 2018.
Mare Hill Common covers 40 hectares of heathland, woodland, and scrub. Not only a perfect place to enjoy a walk in its peaceful, natural surroundings, Mare Hill Common supports a wealth of wildlife, including rare species like the woodlark, Dartford warbler, and nightjar - which are on the European list of threatened species, and is protected by both UK and EU law.
A large part of the common is lowland heathland, which is an internationally rare and threatened habitat.
Plant rarities include birds-nest orchid, broad-leaved helleborine, and round-leaved sundew. The threatened sand lizard has recently been introduced, in partnership with the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust, with the aim of establishing a breeding population on the site.
The importance of its heathland at Mare Hill Common has lead to the sites designation as a Special Protection Area, a Special Area of Conservation, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Visiting Mare Hill Common
Mare Hill Common has a network of paths allowing visitors to explore the site.
To help protect sensitive ground nesting birds, it is a legal obligation under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 for dogs to be on short fixed leads between 1 March and 31 July.
Management of the heathland on Mare Hill Common
Traditionally heathland was maintained through livestock grazing and the harvesting of various plants and trees. Today heathland is no longer used for these purposes, which allows trees and scrub to readily grow and shade out the heathers and grasses. But without intervention, heathland would naturally degrade into poor quality birch and pine woodland, with the associated rare and specialised wildlife being lost.
We have a legal duty to conserve and enhance the protected heathland habitat at Mare Hill Common. We do this by periodically removing some of the scrub and trees, and carrying out bracken control to create more space and light for the specialist heathland species.
Management of woodland at Mare Hill Common
We manage the woodland to maintain a balance between mature trees, understory, and light levels. We also periodically clear thickets of dense holly and coppice areas of sweet chestnut to give tree saplings and wildflowers chance to grow.
Higher Level Stewardship scheme for Mare Hill Common
Mare Hill Common is managed under a 10 year Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement with Natural England to provide funding towards maintaining and improving the site for the benefit of the rare and specialised wildlife it supports.
Works include the restoration to heathland where an absence of past management has allowed trees to colonise and young woodland to develop. Heather seed can remain dormant in the soil for a number of years and will germinate, along with heathland grasses, once tree cover is removed. Other activities include:
- management of existing heathland through the thinning of scrub and trees
- woodland management including holly clearance and tree thinning
- cutting of firebreaks
- bracken control.
The site is run by Ranger, Vicky. For more information email email@example.com.
Page owner: Harri Robinson. Last updated: 09/11/2017 17:00