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.