I’ve joined the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership as a Casual Assistant Ranger to help support the team through their work on the Aldershot Urban Extension (AUE). I spent the last year as a voluntary trainee at Surrey Wildlife Trust and am delighted to have been offered my first paid conservation role!
In my third week, I’m starting to see a pattern! Most days I’ve been out assisting with the preparation of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspaces (SANGs). A condition of the planning consent for the AUE, the SANGs are intended to alleviate increased recreational pressure on nearby wildlife conservation areas, the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area (SPA) and Thursley, Ash, Pirbright & Chobham Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
Designated in 2005 as a result of the European Wild Birds and Habitats Directives, the heathland of these special areas is a natural jewel, supporting important populations of three vulnerable ground-nesting birds, the Dartford warbler, nightjar and woodlark, not to mention a host of other species. Close to Aldershot, sites such as Bourley & Long Valley, Eelmoor Marsh, Thursley Common and Ash Ranges are included in this internationally important network.
Our hard work on the SANGs for the AUE will create fantastic natural greenspaces for Aldershot’s residents and wildlife, and will help to protect the SPA & SAC. I’m very much looking forward to the plan coming to fruition!