Verbal update by the Head Ranger for Ashtead Common.
The Committee received a verbal update by the Head Ranger of Ashtead Common regarding the management priorities for 2015/16. Members were advised of the following matters:
The Head Ranger advised that a small grazing herd of five Sussex cattle would return to wood pasture and scrub grassland areas, whilst future options would be reviewed incrementally. In response to members’ questions. He added that an invisible fence system had proved successful with cattle at Epping Forest but artificial insemination of females had not been as successful as it had been at Epping.
The Head Ranger advised that tree wardens and staff would regularly monitor for Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) and Ash Dieback. Members were advised that the threat of OPM was moving ever closer through West and South West London, so wardens had been trained to check for its effects.
In response to a member’s question, the Head Ranger advised that there was no minimum time required by volunteer tree wardens so local Duke of Edinburgh students were able volunteer as much of their time as they could.
Management of Pollution at the Rye Brook
Members were advised that an oily substance had been polluting water at the Rye Brook. An improved response was required from the Environment Agency (EA) and Thames Water, whose responsibility it was to deal with the water quality. Volunteers had helped survey the diversity of fauna in the Brook, in partnership with the Lower Mole Project; they found that the water in the polluted area of the Rye Brook scored lowest on the Angler’s Score Index (ASI), a measurement of species diversity in water. This suggested that the pollution had affected species diversity in the water but the second inspection showed a higher ASI score than the first, which was a positive improvement.
In response to a question from the Chairman, the Head Ranger advised that the EA had been getting Thames Water to conduct investigations into the source of the pollution. The Senior Ranger added that the work of Surrey Wildlife Trust volunteers had been extremely valuable in surveying for the effects of the pollution. The Chairman added his thanks to all volunteers for their excellent efforts across all areas of the Common.