Progress Report on Shedfield Common
Shedfield Common Report
This past year we have seen a noticeable increase in people enjoying Shedfield Common whether dog walkers, families out walking or horse riders which is great to see.
I thought you would be interested to know what we hope to achieve this year with regards to Shedfield Common. Our contractors will continue to maintain the common and improve biodiversity by increasing the number of ponds; increasing the scrapes to encourage more heather; cut and collect grass from open areas at least once during the year as well as helping to remove non-native species.
Existing footpaths will also be cut at least once during the year. It is very rewarding that due to the work of our contractors, the number of orchids in one area of common has greatly increased together with introduction of further bog loving plants such as bog asphodel. Our contractors will this year be creating another glade near the orchids and increase the number of ponds which we hope not only increases the variety of bog loving plants but also the number of amphibians and other animals which will further enrich our common.
We are working on a long-term goal of re-establishing heathlands on various parts of our common and due to the action of both the contractors, Friends of Shedfield Common and Hampshire Conservation Volunteers, we have seen an increase in ling heather and bell heather. It takes about 3 – 4 years for heather to start producing flowers so it is lovely that we are seeing more flowers showing that more heather is becoming established on our common. We have removed old gorse in the areas over recent years where we are re-establishing heathlands and plenty of young gorse is now appearing. Unfortunately, we have had to remove some saplings on the areas we are establishing as heathlands so there is less competition for the heathers and other heathland plants. However, in other areas of the common over the last two winters, we have planted over 700 trees (donated by the Woodland Trust) with the help of volunteers, the local nursery and Shedfield Beaver Scouts. Most of these have been closely planted to form hedgerows rather than individual large trees which we hope will produce a natural barrier that will reduce the noise pollution from the neighbouring roads. The native trees planted also will produce a variety of flowers and berries once they are established which we hope will further increase the biodiversity of our commons. These trees will need to be maintained and we rely on our volunteers to help with this.
In the new financial year, we will be doing a boundary survey of our common and erecting boundary posts, so everyone is aware of the boundaries to our common as we wish to keep the land for future generations to enjoy.
I am delighted to hear that most dog walkers who use our common respect others and clear up after their dogs. I do realise that this can be difficult if talking on the phone with your dog behind you, but please be mindful of others who do not want their children to step into dog poo or have it on the wheel of prams or boots. The three dog bins which can be found on either side of the main common are emptied weekly. Fortunately this works very well though there has been an occasion in the last year when the bins were all full. This was partly due to additional rubbish being dumped into some of the bins. We apologise for this and hope that if this occurs that dog owners will take their dog bags home and place into their household bins rather creating a pile below the bins which causes additional problems.
There are areas of common which we have deliberately left untended, for example Quagg End, (the two areas on either side of Biddenfield Lane). This is for a reason as dead wood sustains more life than living trees. Which is why responsible conservation bodies like the RSPB or National Trust leave areas of fallen trees to promote wildlife. As the wood decays, it provides a home for thousands of insects and fungi, which in turn sustain a population of birds and other wild animals. We are doing the same and we are keen to nurture this vital habitat. This is rewilding in practice. However, you can help us, by letting us know if you see anyone (apart from contractors and authorised volunteers), removing any material from the Common or if you are interested in helping us improve the common. Friends of Shedfield Common are a small group of volunteers who meet on the third Sunday of every month and do odd jobs on the common for a couple of hours. If you would like to help, please just turn up as we will be delighted with your help.
Cllr Jane Warwick