Heathland Conservation at Puckridge Hill

Our volunteers did their first task on Puckridge Hill, part of Duke’s Wood which is one of the new sites managed by BVCP. A small section of the site is classed as a Site Important to Nature Conservation (SINC) because of the Lowland Heath habitat found on it. The free draining sandy soils found underneath parts of Puckridge Hill means that heather and associated plants can grow.

Much of the area surrounding Puckridge Hill would have been Lowland Heath in years gone by, much like Long Valley which is just the other side of the Fleet Road. This habitat arose from heavy use from local communities who would have grazed animals, collected firewood and cut turves from the land. These activities would have helped to control the encroachment of scrub species such as birch and pine and would have created a varied, open landscape which supported the biodiversity that affords Lowland Heath EU protection today.

The patch of heather and gorse on Puckridge Hill is a remnant of this historical landscape and the volunteers did a great job of cutting back invasive birch, pruning back oak branches that shade out the heather and also raking up heather cuttings left by a contractor. This will help to maintain the low nutrient soils that heather needs to grow.

Ranger George

 

puckridge task

 

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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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