Since the great storm of 1987, the Conservators have taken a more active approach towards the management of the Commons. Until this year (2017), we have been following a management plan produced for the Commons by Kent Wildlife Trust. This plan balanced biodiversity and conservation with the needs of the many Commons users.
This year a new management plan has been adopted by the Conservators which is similar to the previous one although the emphasis has changed slightly.
The Management Plan 2017
can be read here, and the previous one, the 2005 Management Plan
, can be read here.
This is an extract from the Wardens report for September 2018:
The sudden change to hot, dry weather in mid June brought relief from trying to keep up with the clearance of sight lines etc, as the grass came to a sudden halt in growth. There has, of course, also been a downside to this situation. Because of our sandy, free draining soils the effects of hot dry weather are exaggerated, with our acid-grass areas being particularly susceptible. The route that we planned for the Britain in Bloom judges looked great in June, with a mass of heath bedstraw starting to flower in the grassland between Wellington Rocks and Royal Victoria Grove. By the time of their visits in July, the whole area was just brown and desiccated!
Rather more seriously, the downpours that broke the drought washed a huge amount of loose soil and debris into our drainage ditches, blocking a number of them completely. A machine was brought in to dig out the blockages and we are making sure that all the culverts are clear before the rains resume in earnest.
The first visit from the collector flail has taken place, cutting a number of main path edges and roadside verges. It will be returning at the beginning of October to clear our meadows and areas of long grass. We will again be leaving some areas uncut to increase diversity of habitats.
The steep slope between St Helena and Gibraltar Cottage has been cleared of bramble, long grass and scrub. This year we used a remote-controlled flail to clear the area. Some experimentation also took place to find a way to treat invading scrub in our heather regeneration sites with herbicide, without damaging the heather itself. We had some success with our first attempts, but they proved to be too labour intensive and time consuming.
All the Freehold Tenant projects for 2018 are due to be completed over the next few weeks. We are in the process of installing the surfaced paths on the Racecourse on either side of Major York's Road. The clearance tasks at the St Paul’s end of Happy Valley are scheduled to be done the end of September. They will clear the rest of the cherry laurel and remove the adjacent scrub to extend the area of wood pasture.
The final projects will also be completed in the next few weeks: the clearance of scrub adjacent to Cabbage Stalk Lane to expose a young holm oak and reduce shading of the important orchid site; and the clearance of holly scrub to the south of Fir Tree pond, to prevent shading of the pond and to create a far more diverse habitat there.
The Coming Season
As we move into the next work period, clearance of meadows and tracks will continue and, as the leaves start to fall, we will move towards tree work with several trees in need of remedial works or removal already identified. The next phase of our roadside tree survey will be completed, which will identify further remedial works to be undertaken.
In the latter part of the work period we will be carrying out our usual clearance at Happy Valley. This will again involve the use of the flailbot and I will advise all members in advance for those who wish to see it in action. In the same area, we will also be experimenting with a water jet to try and remove soil build up on rock surfaces.
Please follow this link to read the full text of all the recent Warden's Reports.
Although all the work requiring specialists or equipment is done by professionals, the Conservators rely heavily on the goodwill of volunteers to do much of the clearing through the autumn, winter and spring. These voluntary work parties are organised by the Friends of Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons, and meet on the first Saturday of the month from October to March at 10.30, usually at the Fir Tree Road car park. Everyone is very welcome, however little or much you can do. If you do plan to join, please let us know so that we can confirm where we are meeting.
These are the dates for this winter:
6 October 2018
3 November 2018
1 December 2018
5 January 2019
2 February 2019
2 March 2019
If you haven't helped before and would like further information, please contact the Warden at the office on 01892 554250 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, pay a visit to the Friends website. You can join the Friends using their membership page.
Page last updated: 24/10/2018