Just another Autumn?

The strange and disturbing times seem to have become the new normal but I have accepted that rather than continually moan about life or get distressed about our impact on our natural world that instead I should concentrate on the areas where I might be able to make a difference. Actions like moderating how much I consume and considering where exactly does it come from.

Actions like trying to raise and promote local issues that we can all attempt to influence. For Francis and I those issues tend to centre on the countryside of Surrey and we would encourage you to look at, with a more considered eye, your garden, your street, your local countryside. Find out who owns what, who manages what and ask questions whilst offering time to help.

By all means revel in the wonder and joy that countryside and wildlife enriches us with but just maintain a level of heightened awareness about our impact and realise that very little of our environment can be “left alone to look after itself”.

For all the glory to be enjoyed with views to be enjoyed at Newlands Corner

Or St Martha’s

Try and be aware of the details, the last of the summers Chalkhill Blue Butterflies

Sheltering in the grass amidst dozens of people and dogs.

Harebells and Robins Pincushions, the former an increasingly rare beauty and the latter a wild rose plants response to the activity of a tiny wasp larva. Both amazing!

Late summer turf with Harebells
Robin’s Pincushion Gall

Try and remember that your actions impact not only on the wildlife but on other happy wanderers like yourself. In other words its back to behaving responsibly!

I have no idea what the cause of the rash of fires during the exceptionally hot bit of August but I do know from experience most are likely to be as a result of the carelessness or outright stupidity of a small number of people.

Chobham Common National Nature Reserve

Barbecues or a casual disregard as to disposal of a cigarette butt can have devastating consequences. Does anybody actually need to be told not to light a disposable barbecue in the countryside? If you are not in a clearly marked bbq safe area then DON’T LIGHT THE BLOODY THINGS!

Monument on Chobham

The major fire at Chobham Common was covered by the media not because of the damage to a National Nature Reserve but due to the risk of some rather nice housing. Yes, I do understand, but there had already been a big fire at Thursley National Nature Reserve and several other heathlands and a little coverage of these fires possibly relating to climate change and peoples ignorance of fire risk in the south east wouldn’t have hurt.

A Little History

Much has been written in the press about changes to the countryside of Surrey and its management, particularly about alterations and charges at Newlands Corner but there seems to be a wilful ignorance on behalf of SCC of the history of areas like Newlands which are outside SCC ownership.

SCC completed agreements with two large estates during the early 60s to secure public access over some 350 acres of Newlands Corner, Silent Pool and St Martha’s Hill together with, approaching 500 acres of Puttenham Common. After a more protracted negotiation an access agreement was also made during the early 70s over some 1300 acres of Wotton and Abinger Commons together with White Downs.

When these agreements were made they were important as they secured legal public access over several areas that had a long history of use by the public whilst helping the landowners with the practicalities (and costs!) of managing access particularly where uncontrolled car parking was causing damage.

All perfectly laudable………then!

The reality now is that the land subject to these access agreements is now only small part of the operations of  3 major estates namely Albury Estates (the Duke of Northumberland), the Wotton Estate (the Evelyns), and the Hampton Estate (Thornton/Biddell). It is also a fact that much of the land is registered common and therefore if the Agreements were terminated the publics rights of access would be secured under the Countryside and Rights of way Act (CROW). So why, in view of the recent attitude of SCC towards their own estate, do the 3 estate owners still seem to wish to continue a superfluous agreement with SCC? Surely it would be far simpler and frankly more honest for the estates to work direct with Surrey Wildlife Trust as regards Rangering and ecological advice? There is no merit that I can see for the estates to continue an outdated and unnecessary agreement with SCC.

As ever I am more than happy to correct any errors in the above post.