Ashtead Pond is going to get a make over later this year (2013). The Mole Valley plan is to dredge it and take out all the rubbish etc, including the terrapins if they are still in there. The silt will be used to build up the edge nearest the road to make a reed bed, this is needed to filter the pollution from the road. They also want to make a viewing platform, tidy up and replant.
Transition Ashtead supports all initiatives that will help with increasing Biodiversity in our own gardens and across the public green spaces in the village. Please contact us if you would like to get invloved to find out what projects we are planning or running, or if you have a project going and would like some help, or if you have any ideas we would love to hear from you! Our projects include:
- Promoting ‘Bee Hosting’ – where owners of suitable gardens can ‘host’ a hive for a bee keeper (and get their own free honey!)
- Liasing with MVDC and SCC to encourage wildlife and insect friendly management of the grass verges and green spaces in the village.
- Promoting organic gardening methods and highlighting the reasons why we should not use peat.
Bees, Butterflies and Blooms BBC2, was a 3 part series, February 2012
I have to share with you this genius way of linking together water butts which requires no drilling or expensive connector kits (£8). Take a length of hose to reach to the bottom of each water butt, immerse the hose in the full butt, put your finger over one end and move that across into the other butt. It creates a siphon so the water will flow from the full across to the empty butt until the levels are equalised. As the rain fills up one, it will siphon across to the other. You can connect as many butts as you like using this method – ideal for the allotment.
Biodiversity in Ashtead
The Woodfield is a small open space managed for the benefit of the public and nature conservation. Situated less than a mile from the centre of Ashtead, it is lies on the edge of Ashtead Common, a site of national significance. Owned by Mole Valley District Council since 1988, the recent management has been tailored towards increasing its landscape quality and value for biodiversity.
Why manage for biodiversity?
All wildlife is important and each species of wildlife relies on others to survive. They also need somewhere to live and something to eat. It is sometimes easy to forget that the birds that many of us enjoy listening and watching rely on insects that live in long grass or rotting wood. By improving the conditions for wildlife the diversity of species is improved, creating the knock on effect of improving the quality and diversity of a site.
What’s special about The Woodfield?
Designated as a site of Special Nature Conservation Interest the area contains a high diversity of species two, of which feature on the draft rare plants register for Surrey. The site has also been planted up with willow along the south-westerly boundary in keeping with the 1870 OS map which shows a line of trees in this area. The trees will be pollarded on a cyclical basis which is not only an historic management practise, which has been much used on the common, but also has the advantage of creating a new future habitat for specialised deadwood invertebrates.
As part of the Council’s efforts to increase the biodiversity on its sites, areas of long grass have also been set aside at Ashtead Recreation Ground. These areas allow grasses to seed, providing a food source and a habitat for overwintering insects.
The majority of the grass is cut after seeding and is harvested by a local contractor. This method of management results in the removal of nutrients from the site creating the nutrient poor soil that sustains and maintains meadow grasses and wildflowers keeping invasive species in check and supporting many other species.
Tree and Countryside Officer
Mole Valley District Council
I am sure you know how vital honey bees are for the pollination of plants and how our own food production is dependant on having healthy colonies of bees. Bees have been under increasing stress in the last few years and many hives have suffered ‘colony collapse’ for no apparent reason which is still being researched.
One of the issues is finding enough good sites to keep the hives; the Epsom Bee Keepers Association is currently looking for suitable gardens in this area.
We are ‘bee hosts’ and for the last year have kept two hives in our front garden (not visible from the road). It is fascinating to learn about the bees and bee keeping and they have been no problem at all. I don’t see them much in the garden as honey bees need bulk food sources, eg trees, large fields of lavender, rape fields etc. and they will travel up to five miles to get food. We do see them drinking from the edge of the bird bath and of course flying to and from the hives.
We have not been stung at all, but we treat the hives with respect and are quite careful not to mow or make any loud noises too close to the hives which can disturb them. I can thoroughly recommend being a bee host – it is most rewarding, better than keeping pets and has the added benefit of providing us with pots of our very own honey!
When considering sites for hives, think about these points:
- Will the site cause a nuisance to neighbours or the general public?
- Is there convenient access with minimal carrying for the beekeeper to bring in equipment?
- It is essential that it is out of the public gaze.
- Consideration must be given to public footpaths and your use of the land.
- An experienced beekeeper will visit you to assess the suitability of your site.