New funding strengthens habitat in Surrey woodland

The Woodland Trust has strengthened important habitat in a Surrey wood thanks to funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company.

The £15,000 grant, through the Landfill Communities Fund, has been used to link together two chalk grassland areas in Marden Park, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) within the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Woldingham.

A wildlife corridor has been created by installing fencing and clearing scrub. Rare breed sheep and goats that currently graze one of three fragmented areas will now be able to roam into a second area, enabling the spread of seeds and allowing pollinators to travel easily.

Chalk grassland supports an extremely diverse and unique range of plant and invertebrate species. Only 325 hectares or three per cent of the chalk grassland in the South East remains in Surrey and what is left is often highly fragmented and open to destruction through neglect.

Site manager Simon Bateman said:

“We have three fragmented areas of grassland at Marden Park supporting 25 species of butterfly, including the marbled white, and notable grasses and flora, including orchids.

“Only one of these areas is grazed, which is essential for maintaining a long-term richness of species. If the site is not grazed, the character of the habitat changes to scrub, which casts shade and stops the light reaching the important plants.

“Thanks to the funding from Viridor Credits we will be able to extend the grazing regime to make sure this important and rare habitat isn’t lost.”

Gareth Williams, Operations Manager at Viridor Credits, said:

“Enhancing our nation’s biodiversity is a major aim of Viridor Credits, and it is by working alongside organisations like the Woodland Trust that we can deliver real improvements to our environment. The work on the Surrey Hills is essential to maintaining and preserving England’s dwindling calcareous grasslands, and Viridor Credits is delighted to support the Woodland Trust to that aim.”

The site is currently grazed by 10 mixed breed sheep from January to March and six goats from September to March. These timings will be increased by a few weeks.

The strengthened biodiversity at Marden Park will also make surrounding areas of chalk grassland – such as the Woodland Trust’s Langley Vale site and nearby Surrey Wildlife Trust sites - more resilient through the movement of seeds and pollen via the wind, birds or insects.

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Notes to Editors:

Media inquiries to Dee Smith on 01476 581121 or deesmith@woodlandtrust.org.uk

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims: i) protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable, ii) restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life, iii) plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares. Access to its woods is free.