Report and verbal update by the Senior Ranger for Ashtead Common.
The Committee received a verbal updated from the Senior Ranger of Ashtead Common that reviewed the 2014/15 annual work programme. Members were advised on the following matters:
The Senior Ranger advised that it had been year five of the Veteran Tree Schedule, with the cutting season due to finish at the end of February 2015. Members were advised that 96 Oak trees had been retrenched along with 138 halo released and 78 high halo released. The Senior Ranger added that this work had been carried out a team of three contractors from KPS, who were currently on site. In response to members’ questions, he advised that the retrenched veteran trees were given a 10 – 15% reduction of limbs to give a natural look. Members were advised that one or two veteran trees succumb to strong winds each year but they provided excellent deadwood habitat for wildlife.
The Senior Ranger advised that bracken management was focussed on more than ever during 2014. Bracken would continue to be tractor mowed and hand pulled as part of a plan to develop more areas for wood pasture.
The Senior Ranger advised that Monday Estate Team of volunteers had made a significant contribution to the fabric and furniture of Common in 2014, helping towards the application for a Green Flag Award. He added that higher level volunteer experiences had also been developed: a student volunteer from Merrist Wood College had worked for the tree team for 300 hours over a three month period.
In response to a member’s question, the Head Ranger advised that there was not a waiting list for volunteers at present but a good level of interest remained; new volunteers were able to provide assistance in certain areas straight away. He added that volunteering did not take place at weekends but this could be facilitated for a large, established group of volunteers.
The Senior Ranger advised that ecological monitoring surveys on mammals, reptiles, birds, river flies, and the Great Crested Newt had been carried out by staff and volunteers. Future surveys on other notable species such as butterflies and moths would be carried out during 2015.
Members were advised that Bridleway 38 would be re-profiled after the successful re-surfacing of Bridleway 29 in 2014. Members noted that Bridleway 38 was currently waterlogged at the point immediately north of Lady Howards Crossing points so the Senior Ranger advised 460 yards would be re-profiled, including the problem areas.