Yesterday it was my pleasure to meet teachers, pupils and parents from Guildford’s Royal Grammar School and work with them at Southwood Woodland. We worked hard to open up Southwood’s main meadow, cutting invasive birch and willow, and felling trees to create a clear access track.
Once open farmland, Southwood has succeeded to woodland over many years. Ancient oak trees mark old boundaries and hint at the more open landscape that allowed them the space to grown into magnificent trees. But much of the site is covered with more recent birch scrub. The biodiversity of such woodland is greatly enhanced by clearings, where lack of shade creates warm sheltered areas for invertebrates such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies, and encourages a variety of flowering plants to grow, providing nectar and pollen, important sources of food. Sunny areas are also great for basking reptiles, allowing them to maintain their body temperature, and the stealthy observer may be lucky enough to see slowworm and common lizard in Southwood’s clearings.
Many thanks to Ranger Stuart who kindly agreed to take a back seat and let me have a go at leading, and a huge thank you to Rebecca Rathmell and her team for all their hard work. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, please come again!
Casual Assistant Ranger Sarah