Controlled burn at Iping and Stedham Commons

06 February 2018 | Posted in Jane Willmott , Iping Common
Controlled burn at Iping and Stedham Commons
controlled burn © Mark Monk-Terry

By Jane Willmott

Reserves Officer

We are planning a controlled burn on Iping and on Stedham Commons in early February.

Burning on heathland is a centuries old technique used for management of dense stands of even-aged heather to create a mosaic of bare ground and different aged plants. Heather begins to die back after a number of years and a controlled burn at the right temperature will move swiftly across the surface burning off built up vegetation without harming the inhabitants. This will remove nutrients that allow invasive species such as birch pine and bracken to establish and out-compete the heather. Although the area will look black and desolate for a while, the bare ground is very useful for rare heathland insects such as the chirruping field crickets and ferocious tiger beetles to make their burrows. The heather also quickly regenerates providing ideal conditions for the beautiful silver-studded blue butterflies and the ants that they depend upon for protection. We plan to carry out other burns around Iping and Stedham Commons in future years to create the right conditions. All this ensures that the Commons are home to a fantastic array of insect, reptile and bird life, including nightjars, woodlarks and tree pipits.

Unlike accidental fires in summer, this burn will not kill existing wildlife as it is carried out when vulnerable species will be in their dormant phase underground and out of harms way. We also walk the burn area first to ensure any active animals such as birds are not around.

The burn will only be carried out on a suitable day when weather conditions are right, so we have a number of possible dates so far (the burn will only take one day):-

Thursday 8 February or Friday 9 February 2018

For safety reasons the public will be excluded from the burn vicinity while it is being carried out. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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