Chessington Woodland Discovery Centre

Posted: 6th September, 2017

Woodland Discovery Centre Team become Hedgerow Heroes!

On the 5th August Chessington Woodland Discovery Centre hosted their first conservation workshop in partnership with Surrey Wildlife Trust. ‘Hedgerow Heroes’, a new conservation project for Surrey Wildlife Trust, aims to train volunteers in hedgerow surveying so that Surrey’s hedgerow habitats can be restored and protected.

Supported by Chessington Conservation Fund, this project is close to Chessington World of Adventures’ heart particularly with the launch of the new Woodland Discovery Centre. This new centre is a nature and conservation hub, aiming to engage the local community with native wildlife. The Woodland Discovery Centre education team were keen to get involved and thanks to Surrey Wildlife Trust’s training, now make up part of the volunteer database who are ready to survey and save Surrey’s hedges!

Initial training took place in the Woodland Discovery Centre where both the education team and Surrey Wildlife Trust’s volunteers learnt about the importance of hedgerows as connections in nature and as food and nesting sites for many animals, including the hazel dormouse, harvet mouse and hedgehog. Hedgerows in the UK have been declining since the Second World War and while hedgerow length has begun to stabilise, many hedgerows are in poor condition due to intensive farming and a decline in traditional management.

To combine the theory with practical experience, the team then headed to Horton Country Park to do some hedgerow surveying. Using their trusted technical equipment (a large stick) the condition of the hedgerow could be assessed, calculating the average height and width of different aspects of the hedge and recording the different species observed. In this instance the team were lucky enough to find a hedgerow in healthy condition!

Assessing the condition of hedgerows is the first important step in knowing where to restore precious habitats in the Surrey area. Chessington’s Woodland Discovery Centre team look forward to carrying out further surveys this year to add to Surrey Wildlife Trust’s database, and furthering their conservation efforts as official ‘Hedgerow Heroes’.

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