Royal Grammar School Ranger Day

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!

Clearing invasive birch at Southwood (R. Rathmell)

Clearing invasive birch at Southwood (R. Rathmell)

Enjoying Southwood (R.Rathmell)

Enjoying Southwood (R.Rathmell)

The RGS team (R. Rathmell)

The RGS team (R. Rathmell)

Marshmallow reward (R. Rathmell)

Marshmallow reward (R. Rathmell)

Southwood's main meadow (S. Bunce)

Southwood’s main meadow (S. Bunce)

Casual Assistant Ranger Sarah

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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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