Volunteering to protect and enhance Churt's environment

Churt Scouts rise to the challenge - 10 October 2021

A number of Churt’s senior Scouts are working hard to complete their World Challenge Award, for which they must meet seven challenges. One of them is to spend a day volunteering in their local community  and finding out about a local nature reserve. A second challenge is to take an active part in a local environmental project whilst a third is to take part in an activity that explores an international issue. The recognition that loss of Nature’s biodiversity is an international issue which must be addressed to ensure a sustainable future for Planet Earth, plus the fact that there is a 12 acre area of woodland belonging to our Churt community which is the subject of an emerging local environmental project meant that volunteering to increase the biodiversity of Churt’s woodland (which is directly off Pond Lane) would tick all three of those particular challenge boxes!

   

So six of our Scouts spent a busy October Sunday afternoon doing just that. Their work touched on three different aspects to increasing biodiversity: creating new habitat for wildlife and plant life; ensuring that dominant species such as bracken do not outcompete other native plants, thereby wiping out existing or emerging structural diversity; planting additional tree species which are native to the local area but not yet growing in our woodland.

  

First they worked hard piling scattered fallen pine deadwood into large heaps which will undoubtedly provide a great refuge for invertebrates, reptiles and small mammals like mice. Clearing part of the woodland floor also offers an opportunity for native shrubs to self-seed and grow. This was hot work so a brief rest was necessary before moving on to the second task.

  

The bracken is taking over in several areas in the wood so some serious effort is needed to keep it under control. We chose an area where it is encroaching on a footpath and launched an experiment; one group cut the bracken and the other group dug or pulled it out, taking as much of the rhizome as possible. We shall wait to see which of these techniques has had most effect on the following year’s growth – recognising that getting the bracken under control is not going to be a short-term project! The small group soon made quite an impact on the bracken in that area – and it has to be said, had some fun cutting, digging and piling it in the process.

  

The third activity was to select appropriate sites and plant a few native saplings kindly donated to us by the Carbon Footprint organisation. The woodland is predominantly Scots Pine but a recent survey by Surrey Wildlife Trust recorded that penduculate oak, silver birch, rowan, beech, hazel and holly have self-seeded and are now growing as part of the succession in what used to be the old Churt Cricket Ground. We added to the diversity by planting a few whitebeam, wild cherry and dogwood species. Scouts found the planting especially satisfying – even though adding the spiral rabbit guards presented a few dexterity challenges. We will need to keep checking and augment the level of protection as the trees grow.

  

Thank you Scouts and also Scout Leaders Carol Ireland and Sarah Smith for your hard work to increase the biodiversity of Churt’s wood and thank you Jon Stringer, Jeremy Wylie, Hannah Wills and Brian Johnson for your help.

Read accounts written by the Scouts themselves about this activity:

Ned's report

Arthur's report 

Nick's report

Churt Litter Pick - 10 October 2021

A massive thank you to everyone who came to the Churt litter pick on 10th October. 17 black bags of rubbish were collected from the roads around the village centre.