With a third of Surrey’s wildlife in decline or extinct, Surrey Wildlife Trust welcomed Jonathan to walk on Ash Ranges and experience first-hand a local place where wildlife is thriving and discuss how the important habitat is protected and improved.
Jonathan was joined by Guildford Borough Councillor Gordon Jackson, Surrey County Councillor Keith Witham, and Chairman of Pirbright Parish Council Steven Fidgett. They visited Ash Ranges, a MOD training area and important heathland site, with Ben Habgood, Conservation Manager for Surrey Wildlife Trust, and Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, the Trust’s new CEO.
The ancient 5000-year-old heathland habitat is vitally important for wildlife, including rare birds and insects, and the group were treated to views all the way to London’s skyline and across Surrey’s forests and hills. Ben explained how the Trust is constantly improving and adapting the way it manages heathland habitats, and its connectivity to the wider landscape, including nearby reserves to help wildlife cope with the effects of climate change.
The Trust also discussed the importance of creating new connections for wildlife across the landscape, including through towns and villages. Fragmentation caused by manmade structures, such as roads and buildings, is a leading factor in the decline of wildlife and the natural environment.
Jonathan said: ‘I had a fascinating time on Ash Ranges learning about the wildlife and the work of the Trust to look after this important area. Surrey is lucky to have a lot of beautiful countryside and it is important we protect and connect vital places like Ash Ranges, to help stop the decline of our natural environment.’
Surrey Wildlife Trust is working to create a more connected landscape for nature across Surrey by working with land owners and other partners around the county. The Wildlife Trusts also believe that the new Environment Bill is a chance to drive the creation of connectivity by introducing statutory Nature Recovery Networks.
Sarah Jane Chimbwandira, chief executive of Surrey Wildlife Trust, said: ‘Just as Surrey commuters need a reliable road and transport network to thrive, wildlife needs a reliable hedgerow, river and green corridor network that supports its freedom to move, mate, feed and breed. In the Government’s manifesto it committed to being the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than it found it. Well here’s its chance. Mapping Nature Recovery Networks and protecting them by law could help achieve their manifesto claims.’