Kempshott Conservation Group

This community based voluntary group was formed in 2006 and manages three sites in Kempshott:

Down Grange Meadow comprises two sites, Down Grange Meadow and the Old Hedgerow. These two sites are contiguous and although each has its own schedule of work parties, the two sites can be considered as a whole for the purposes of biodiversity. Down Grange Meadow is the largest site that KCG manages and has a range of habitats. While the Old Hedgerow is part of a Green Corridor that connects the Meadow with other green spaces to the north.

Down Grange Meadow

Our largest site of around 16 acres, with a mix of mature woodland, recent hardwood plantations and an ex-arable meadow, all created in the 1970s. This now supports wild flowers and grasses and is a haven for insects, moths and 27 species of butterfly. Despite being almost entirely surrounded by housing, the meadow supports a good population of mammals, both top predators and prey. It also has rare fungi, amphibians and nesting birds. The Meadow is often visited by buzzards, red kites and sparrow hawks.

The Old Hedgerow

A 200 yard stretch of over-mature hedgerow that dates from the 19th century. Our main focus is to ensure a succession of trees and shrubs are maintained. A number of the hawthorns, often covered in ivy, are now so old that they are falling prey to gales. The hedgerow is a major source of native Elm that routinely falls prey to Dutch Elm disease as they mature, but we are now planting disease resistant stock to maintain succession.

The Old Orchard in Kendal Gardens

A small fragment (6 acres) of the smallholdings that thrived from the 1900’s to the 1960’s. It is now home to a new community orchard, first established in 2006, which is now literally bearing fruit. The group has the assistance of local Scouts to¬† manage the site and make good use of the fruit!

Improving Biodiversity

We decided that the best way to do this was to focus on developing the bottom of the food chain, i.e encouraging a variety of grasses, native wildflowers, shrubs and trees. We also wanted to develop a range of habitat types, such as meadow, scrub and wooded areas, each of which would support its own distinctive biome.

As we were starting with fertile ex-arable land, getting a good mix of native wildflowers was going to be an ask, without some active intervention. The easiest start was to get the council to remove the arisings when they cut areas of grass. Prior to 2006, council grass cutting had been rather chaotic with some years being missing altogether, and all the arisings left when it was cut. With just getting the arisings removed, it would still take decades for the fertility to reduce to the point where wildflower seeding could be effective. A major intervention was going to be required to accelerate this process.

So we embarked on a series of de-turfing exercises, prior to seeding with appropriate native wildflowers with seeds of known provenance. We had a good idea of what flower species grew in the district and concentrated on sowing these.

We started off by manually striping small areas by hand, but within three years or so, it was obvious that mechanical scraping was the way forward. Between 2011 and 2014 we got the council to do some major de-turfing for us. Although disruptive at the time, we have managed to establish large areas of wildflowers. We have also undertaken small de-turfing exercises where mechanical scraping was not practical, i.e. alongside wooded areas where tree roots present a problem. From 2016 onwards, we have got the Community Payback teams to do this work on our behalf.

We meet Sunday mornings and Thursday afternoons on a rolling 10 or 11 day cycle from late September to mid March – check the site calendar for up-to-date schedules and locations for work parties.

Here is a hint of what we have on our sites…

KCG

Contact Us:

Email : kempshott-conserve@tiscali.co.uk

Website: www.kempshottconservationgroup.org.uk

Facebook – Old Orchard: facebook.com/profile.php?id=100079921594252

Facebook – Meadow and Hedgerow: facebook.com/profile.php?id=100079921594252