Thanks to a generous £9,739 grant from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, via the Landfill Communities Fund, Sussex Wildlife Trust is working to restore an historic heathland at Graffham Common near Petworth in West Sussex.
Jane Willmott, Sussex Wildlife Trust Living Landscape Officer, says: ‘This work will benefit endangered heathland birds including nightjar, woodlark and tree pipit.Our management plan involves grazing, contractors and volunteers helping to control invasive plants such as rhododendron, birch and bracken. This will allow the heather to regenerate, providing a home for birds, adders, lizards and dragonflies, which rely upon this increasingly rare heathland habitat.’
More than 80% of the UK’s lowland heaths have been lost over the centuries. Graffham Common is a Biodiversity 2020 Priority Heathland Habitat and an old estate map shows it was grazed with livestock as long ago as 1629. The funding is good news for important heathland plants such as bell heather, cross-leaved heath and gorse, as well as wet heath specialist plants; the carnivorous sundews, hare’s tail cottongrass and marsh clubmoss - a Biodiversity Action Plan species.
Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Youth Rangers (16-25 year old volunteers) and local volunteers will be helping with the project, gaining valuable practical experience of heathland management while they work.
We are also grateful to the South Downs National Park Authority which provided a financial contribution that was vital to unlocking the funding grant.
For further information on Sussex Wildlife Trust’s work please visit Graffham Common nature reserve page