This Saturday saw the very first Biodiversity and Habitat Improvement Volunteer Day in Gravetye Woods. It was a great turnout, despite the rain, with 13 volunteers keen to learn how to improve and enhance the natural environment of the estate for wildlife. The four-hour session was led by Ecologist Ross Symonds. In the past, Ross has worked on native species improvement projects with Bristol Zoo and Buglife and taught Conservation at the University of the West of England. He is also a Ranger at nearby Chiddinglye.

It was a bit too wet to do any surveying. Though we are keen to get baseline data of all the flora and fauna on the estate. So we just cracked on with building a wildlife-friendly dead hedge.

A dead hedge is a sustainable way of enclosing a space using dead wood, brash and other organic materials found in the woods. It also has a dual purpose of creating a place for small mammals and birds to shelter and provides organic material for a host of invertebrates to chow down on. Our volunteers created around 40 metres of dead hedging to hide the existing dilapidated, ugly fencing until we can create a permanent hedge next Winter.

We also set up a couple of bird feeding stations to help us monitor the bird activity within the wood and to provide a valuable source of food in these difficult months.

We also ate lots of biscuits.

There are loads more projects planned in the future – such as establishing a hedgerow nursery, tree planting, creating a wildflower meadow, wildlife surveys, building and setting up bird/bat/owl boxes, coppicing, building a composting toilet for volunteers and improving access for all and much, much more.