In May 2015, we launched our new website. Blog posts from prior to this time might have some strange formatting in places. We apologise for any inconvinience this may cause.

Catch-up on conservation at Gatwick Airport

16 December 2014 | Posted in Gatwick Greenspace , Tom Simpson

Author Tom Simpson

Gatwick Greenspace Project Assistant People and Wildlife Officer

Last week Gatwick Airport was awarded the Wildlife Trusts Biodiversity Benchmark Award

in recognition of the protection and enhancement of the airport’s landholdings for wildlife. Providing such services to Gatwick’s landholdings, some 72 acres, is no small task and a great deal of the hard graft has come from volunteers giving up their free time to come out and help.

Volunteers from the Mace Group show off their dead hedge Volunteers from the Mace Group show off their dead hedge

As the temperature has steadily dropped over the last few months, bizarrely, the numbers of volunteers have steadily increased and Gatwick’s woodlands in particular have reaped the benefits of this conservation drive.

Upper Picketts in spring / Rachel Bicker) Upper Picketts in spring / Rachel Bicker)

Upper Picketts Woods, located in the land to the east of the railway line, is a typical low weald woodland. The abundance of multi-stemmed hazel in the understory suggests coppicing has been practiced here for some time. This traditional technique of cutting Hazel and allowing it to re-grow produces a healthy crop of straight, strong and flexible poles, and diversifies the woodland structure to support a variety of wildlife - an all-round good practice.

With this in mind we recently set to work on a neglected coppice compartment. Over a three-week period from late October, our volunteers helped to manage a healthy woodland habitat by coppicing hazel stools, grading and sorting the usable poles (into hedging stakes and binders), and creating habitat piles from the left-over brash.

Using a drawknife to remove bark from hedging stakes, which may cause them to rot once in the ground. Using a drawknife to remove bark from hedging stakes, which may cause them to rot once in the ground.

The Biodiversity Benchmark Award is a great way to round-off the year. It shows just how important the input from GAL and all of the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership's volunteers has been. We’re all looking forward to building on Gatwick’s conservation credentials as we head into 2015.

Leave a comment