Work is underway on this season's work to restore the heathland, previously lost to conifer plantations since the 1950s.
We're removing planted Scots Pines to open up areas where heathland has previously been. Over the next few years this will develop into a glorious heath, buzzing with wildlife.
The view of the High Weald is reappearing after being hidden for decades....
The logs are being taken for use in construction, furniture making, fencing and even horse bedding. The branches and needles will be chipped and taken to generate electricity.
We're also removing the dense, impenetrable, self-seeded pine. This has to be done tree-by-tree... and there are acres of this! Around half will be removed this year.
Restoring Broadwater Warren is a big job and is going to take several more years yet. The ground that is newly opened up must be managed to keep the pines and birch under control so that the buried heather seeds get chance to germinate. We'll let the heather develop, as well as encouraging scrubby areas and a wide mix of habitat niches. This will be great for wildlife and a great place to explore for our visitors, especially children and also wildlife enthusiasts.
You can see a map of the area where we're working here.
Years of planning and consultation has got us this far. We're grateful to the suport of our visitors, our partners (the Forestry Commission and Natural England), and our funders which include the SITA Trust, Biffa, and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
There are lots of fantastic Dragonflies in the reserve at the moment, both around the Decoy Pond and patrolling up and down the rides. Here are a couple of photos that I took recently with a simple point and press camera. You just have to be patient, wait until they settle and you can then get quite close without disturbing them. The first photo is of a female Southern Hawker and the second a Golden-Ringed (male I think)
In Sepetmber 2010 we cleared a large area of dense, impenetrable young conifer on the eastern side of the reserve. Less than 2 years later there is a thick carpet of heather shoot, all in flower.
All of this heather has come from seed which had laid dormant under the conifer for years.
And, it's already teeming with life. These photos were taken on Tuesday 16 August. Check out this Honeybee...
This is a male White-tailed bumblebee...
Check out the amazing site of the heather in flower as you walk between the car park and the Decoy pond. Look out also for bees, butterflies and dragonflies.
We've just finished the July check of our Dormouse nestboxes and were delighted to find 21 animals all seeming to be in good health. The highlight was discovering 2 males and a female in the same box. Not necessarily a happy home because the males seemed to have been scrapping to win the favours of the attractive young lady. Last July we had exactly the same total number of Dormice but that included 9 adults and 12 youngsters. This year all 21 were adults so it looks as though the bad weather has delayed the breeding season. Fingers crossed that young are born soon because they'll need time to put on sufficient weight to survive their winter hibernation. We'll know more when we check the boxes later this year. Fingers crossed until then. Couldn't resist including a cute photo of a Dormouse peeping out of its bracken nest.
Big thank you to everyone from Responsible Travel and the AONB Unit who came to Broadwater today to help us remove old rabbit fencing in order to clear the way for this autumn's heathland restoration work. Much laughter and lots of fun along with a great deal of hard work. I reckon about 400 metres of fencing was removed which is an amazing result. I really enjoyed hosting the day and hope that all those mozzie bites don't itch too much in the morning.