SCHEDULE FOR WORK PARTIES ON MIDHURST COMMON
FRIENDS OF MIDHURST COMMON
Due to the current Coronavirus climate, all future organised Heath Team volunteer tasks will be suspended until further notice.
The group meet on the last Friday of each month, meeting at the base of Sunset Hill on Midhurst Common at 10am. The day usually finishes about 3pm.
Come along for however long you feel you are able to volunteer. We would be pleased to see you.
For further information, e-mail email@example.com.
MEETING PLACE. Congregate at Sunset Hill.
Midhurst Common Conservation management update – Management plan report 2014
Midhurst Common is in the ownership of Cowdray Estates. The Estates Forestry Department oversees all usage of the wooded areas of the Common as a commercial concern, but the present agreement with Cowdray Estates allows the opportunity for the Friends of Midhurst Common, in conjunction with the South Downs National Park Authority, to manage the areas of the Common which have been cleared to allow the land to return to heath.
The Friends of Midhurst Common Newsletter No.5, dated March 2004, relates the beginnings of clearance of “a small area of remnant heathland which runs beside the pylon line on the western boundary of Midhurst Common”. During the winter of 2003/04, the newsletter continues.”This winter our efforts have been greatly helped by the Cowdray Estate Forestry Department. Estate forestry workers have felled surrounding Pine, sufficiently to double the area of open heathland potentially present”.
IN 2009, the Friends of Midhurst Common contributed towards the felling and clearance of pine below Sunset Hill, to open up the view across to the South Downs, which had become completely obscured. (See photo at the top of this page).
Over the past 2 years, the “Friends” have been working with an SDNPA Ranger to establish a Management Plan for these areas, which is now in its final stage. The Plan covers the time span of 5 years and includes one or two additional areas which hold potential for improvement as wildlife habitat.
The Management Plan includes the following:-
Dry Heath – Areas of heathland Nationally and Internationally rare.
Currently on Midhurst Common these areas are threatened by invasion by rhododendron, birch and bracken. Also self seeding scots pine.
Wet Heath – Area of boggy heathland. Area threatened by invasive birch and some regrowth of rhododrendron.
The Management Plan proposes to –
Increase the percentage of Heather
Increase levels of Deer Grass and Hairs Tail Cotton Grass
Maintain the areas of Billberry
Reduce invasive species, whereby increasing the invertebrate and reptile populations and areas of beneficial floral species
Maintain edge habitat
Widen rides to create corridors (for species to move around)
Expand Ancient Bank**
Quarry – Area of the old brickworks with some open sand, birch, woodland areas and ponds. Two small areas of Japanese Knotweed exist.
Survey and write plan of management, to include
Investigate creation of Kingfisher and Sand Martin Banks
Remove Japanese Knotweed.
Notable Roadside Verge –
Maintain current species and encourage lost species on Notable Roadside Verge.
Mow verge annually in Autumn after seeding and remove cuttings.
Other areas considered for conservation are
Mixed Broadleaf Woodland
The Management Plan proposes these areas are also considered for conservation, but some surveying, consideration of best beneficial management for each individual area and negotiation carried out in order to establish any final plan.
The heathland area is at threat of being taken over by invasive species without management. These include Rhododendron, Birch, Bracken and also Scots Pine. Scots Pine is also of interest to the Landowners to harvest as a crop. This would compromise the conservation on the present heathland area. At present there is no recording of species, it is therefore difficult to determine what is present, lost, declining or increasing.
The periphery of the common is frequently used by residents and allotment holder to illegally dump garden waste within the boundary. This has caused the spread of some invasive species, including Variegated Yellow Archangel (latin name) and Spanish Bluebell (Endymion hispanieus). This can cause a threat to native species and prove difficult to eradicate.
Other detrimental activities which affect the whole of Midhurst Common are
Illegal Motocycle riding (See Pathwatch article below).
Dumping of garden waste
Fly tipping and other litter (Article below)
Camping, fires and parties.
- Sussex Pathwatch is a scheme which was launched in May 2006. It is supported by Sussex Police, the South Downs National Park Authority and West Sussex County Council, to monitor and protect Rights of Way, Open Access and Common land from those who unlawfully use motorised vehicles on these areas. It therefore applies to Midhurst Common, being an areas of Open Access, having many Rights of Way and being Common Land. On Midhurst Common motorcyclists are often seen and heard using the area of the quarry.
Members of the general public who use Midhurst Common and those who live close by, are asked to keep a record of the number shown on the card below. If possible obtain details of any number plates (on the back of the motorcycle) and/or any general description of the motorcycle and rider and report these details. The police switchboard is in Lewes, so please emphasize the location of Midhurst Common and give the postcode area (to be added).
It is important that pedestrians can exercise their right to walk freely on the Common and for the protection of the Common itself.
When motorcycles are seen or heard on Midhurst Common, the more people who report this activity, the more likely that action will be taken.
Fly tipping and Litter
Despite the fact that the local Amenity Tip is only a matter of metres away from Midhurst Common there is, occasionally, unscrupulous fly tipping which creates considerable problems. If the fly tipping has taken place on the roadside, the Chichester District Council can be contacted on Telephone (01243 785166). This number is the main switchboard and the information will be passed through to the relevant department.
However, when litter is deposited on the Common, it can cause additional problems. For a considerable number of years now, the Friends of Midhurst Common have carried out twice yearly clearance days, with volunteers, to collect litter from the Common. To enable these days to take place, Chichester District Council have a system whereby litter clearance items can be borrowed by the group and the results of the clearance collected and disposed of, which works very well. When these days were first undertaken, it was quite usual for about 30/40 bags of litter, plus larger items to be collected. As time has gone by, the amount of litter has been considerably less, which is very pleasing, as it indicates that our continued vigilance is of benefit, not only to Midhurst Common, but to all those who regularly use the area. It has also alerted the general public to the fact that people do care about the area and they, too, help to keep the area free of litter by taking a carrier bag with them when out walking and picking up the odd bit of litter on their journeys.
The regular volunteers very much appreciate this extra help which is given people who undertake these thoughtful actions.
If anyone spots areas of litter on Midhurst Common which may give concern, please telephone (01730) 812256 and leave a message, so that the matter can be dealt with.
RECORD KEEPING AND DATA ENTRY FOR WILDLIFE AND FLORA
On a recent training morning held for volunteers of the South Downs National Park and Sussex WildlifeTrust, the following websites list was given to aid the recording of nature by people who collect monitor the state of wildlife in any chosen area. The training was on the use of iRecord and the following websites all relate to the use of that website. Please explore these websites and use iRecord to register you sighting and surveys to aid establish a wider picture of natures progress.
iRecord website: http://www.brc.ac.uk/iRecord
iRecord Training Manual: http://www.iRecord-training.readthedocs.org
iRecord Training Manual PDF: http://www.readthedocs.org/projects/iRecord-training/download/
iRecord Quck How-to Guide: http://www.brc.ac.uk/iRecord/how-to-i/
iRecord Help Forum: http://www.brc.ac.uk/iRecord/forum
Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre: http://www.sxbrc.org.uk
Open University Ecosystems MOOC (free online course): http://www.futurelearn.com/courses/ecosystems-2014
iSpot: http://www.ispotnature.prg/ This site is for beginners and intermediate wildlife recorders