Sarah and SANGs

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!

Sarah Bunce.

 

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About blackwatervalleycountryside

The Blackwater Valley is located on the borders of Hampshire, Surrey and Berkshire and runs for approximately 30km from the source near Aldershot, northwards to Swallowfield. At its confluence it joins the rivers Whitewater and Loddon. The Loddon eventually flows into the River Thames near Reading. Work in the Blackwater Valley is co-ordinated by the Blackwater Valley Countryside Partnership on behalf of the local authorities that border the Valley. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Valley provides an important green corridor for local residents As well as the Blackwater Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a small part of the Basingstoke Canal SSSI, three nature reserves within the Valley catchment and many other areas have been recognised for their ecological importance. The local planning authorities covering the Valley have designated 31 other areas as ‘Wildlife Sites’.
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