Ewell’s wetlands to be celebrated on an open day

Aerial view Chamber Mead nature reserve

The South East Rivers Trust (SERT) is inviting local residents to come and celebrate the newly-created
Chamber Mead wetlands with a day of family fun, activities and guided tours.

The celebration day on Saturday 20th April will give nature lovers the chance to add plants to this
critical pollution buster for the River Hogsmill, a precious chalk stream.

Families will also have the chance to learn about the health of the river by taking part in riverfly
demonstrations, a scavenger hunt and nature craft activities. Guided tours of the wetlands will also
be part of the day, which runs from 11am to 3pm.

The open day begins a fortnight of planting opportunities for schools and community groups. All the
plants have been specially selected to absorb pollutants and attract pollinators and an increased
range of wildlife across the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve.

The wetlands in Ewell now divert urban pollutants from the Green Lanes Stream away from the
Hogsmill, one of only 200 chalk streams in the world. Once filtered water is fed back into the river
just downstream of the famous Stepping Stones, another 5km of waterway is protected as it flows
into south London all the way to the Thames.

Dr Bella Davies, Co-CEO of SERT, said: “We’re thrilled to be giving the community the chance to learn
all about Chamber Mead wetlands and crucially give people the chance to complete the project. The
public have been very supportive of the wetlands from the start and adding plants is a wonderful
opportunity to attract new wildlife not only to the water but the wider nature reserve. This will fulfill
the potential of the wetlands to become another jewel in the crown of the reserve and make it an
even bigger asset for the community. We’re excited to see the results in years to come on the
Hogsmill, which should be a haven for brown trout, water voles and native crayfish, among other
species which need our help in recovering their numbers.”

Councillor John Beckett, (RA Auriol) Chair of the Environment Committee at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said: “We are overjoyed to be able to join SERT on the Chamber Mead Wetlands Open Day, to
celebrate the fantastic work that has been done here to boost biodiversity and reduce pollution in
the Hogsmill River.  I hope that residents will join us to help complete the project, which will ensure
the Hogsmill River Local Nature Reserve is a place where wildlife and nature can thrive, and one that
we can enjoy for many years to come.”

Supported by the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership, the project has received funding from The Coca-
Cola Foundation, Natural England (through the Species Recovery Programme), the Environment
Agency, Surrey County Council, the Rivers Trust, the Zoological Society of London, Garfield Weston
Foundation and Thames Water, with in-kind support from the landowner Epsom & Ewell Borough
Council. The new wetlands are part of the wider Replenish programme in partnership with the Coca-
Cola Foundation and the Rivers Trust. The aim of Replenish is to restore millions of litres of water in
this and other local catchments, in turn improving biodiversity.

Speeches will take place at 11:30am- 12noon:

These will be delivered by Jackie King, Chief Executive of Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, Dr Bella
Davies, Co-CEO of the South East Rivers Trust, and Borough Mayor Cllr Robert Geleit (Labour Court) who will also cut the ribbon to officially open the wetlands.

Plants such as yellow flag iris have been chosen for their ability to take up nutrients such as nitrogen
and phosphorous. Meanwhile ragged robin and purple loosestrife will attract species such as
butterflies, bees and damselfies, while brooklime, typical in chalk stream settings, will offer shelter
for tadpoles and sticklebacks.

Related reports:

Chalking up a victory for the Hogsmill

“Garden of Eden” coming to West Ewell as Wetlands Plan is approved. Will this stop pollution?

Voles let loose on the Hogsmill

About the South East Rivers Trust:

The South East Rivers Trust is an environmental charity bringing rivers and their catchments back to
life. Working in 12 river catchments across the South East, the Trust connects communities and
mobilises citizen scientists to educate and engage people on the importance of rivers, and supports
and challenges stakeholders, businesses and individuals to protect them. The Trust uses data and evidence to target positive action and works with nature to make rivers healthy again. This includes
tackling water pollution, addressing water scarcity, reconnecting rivers and restoring habitats.


Tree felling foul of the law

Tree stumps

The culprits who illegally chopped down more than 100 protected trees and damaged seven others have been fined nearly £20,000, Woking Borough Council said.

A landowner, together with its contractor were prosecuted and fined for the unauthorised felling of the trees  near Upshot Lane, Pyrford, after pleading guilty at Guildford Magistrates’ Court.

Burhill Development Ltd admitted it ignored a tree preservation order on its land and was made to pay £15,140, comprising fines of £11,000, a victim surcharge of £2,000 and costs of £2,140.

Their contractor, P&A Services, which carried out the work, also pleaded guilty to the unauthorised felling and causing damage to the protected trees and was ordered to pay a total of £2,900;  fines of £1,000; a victim surcharge of £400; and council costs of £1,500.

The action was taken against the two firms by Woking Borough Council. The original hearing took place in October 2023 with the judge issuing sentence in March 2024.

Speaking about the prosecution, Beverley Kuchar, Woking Borough Council’s strategic director for place, described it as an “important case” and welcomed the decision.

She said: “Whether you permit or cause wilful damage to our environment we will take legal action wherever necessary.

“It is important that landowners and their contractors take the necessary steps to understand what consent is required before commencing tree works.

“The status of the borough’s trees can be checked quickly and simply online. If in doubt, our arboricultural team can provide advice in advance of any works commencing.

“There is no excuse and, as in this case, failure to do so can lead to a criminal prosecution and significant fines.”

Tree Preservation Orders protect specific trees, groups of trees, or woodland that benefit the wider community

Chalking up a victory for the Hogsmill

View of Hogsmill wetland in Ewell

The South East Rivers Trust (SERT) has completed the construction of a 2,000m 2 pollution filter which will bring major benefits to Epsom and Ewell’s Hogsmill chalk stream.

When planting takes place in the spring, the newly constructed Chamber Mead wetland will protect and improve 5km of river downstream, filtering pollutants and becoming a haven for wildlife.

The project has been carried out in partnership with Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, which owns and manages the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve, a popular greenspace which will now benefit from this new community asset.

The wetland is a crucial project for the Hogsmill, which suffers adversely from pollution such as urban road runoff, raw sewage discharges and misconnected plumbing that sends drain water directly into the river. Water from the Green Lanes Stream has been diverted through a sediment trap and two wetlands, with filtered, cleaner water reconnected to the Hogsmill downstream of the famous Stepping Stones.

News about the wetland’s completion comes in the week of World Wetlands Day, on Friday 2nd February. Dr Bella Davies, Co-CEO of SERT, said: “We are delighted that the construction phase of this important wetlands project has now been completed. It is destined to become a jewel in the crown of the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve. The public has shown great enthusiasm for this project, and we will soon be calling on volunteers and community groups to add the plants that will really make the wetlands flourish as a magnet for wildlife. The water quality improvements that will result from the wetlands are designed to help the river become a healthier place for all, especially wildlife that thrive in a chalk stream, such as brown trout.”

Councillor John Beckett, (RA Auriol) Chair of the Environment Committee at Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, said: “The council is committed to protecting and enhancing biodiversity in our borough, as per our Biodiversity Action Plan 2020-30. This partnership project with the South East Rivers Trust will help to ensure that the Hogsmill Local Nature Reserve is a place where nature can thrive; from woodpeckers, hedgehogs and bats – to species whose numbers have dwindled such as water voles, fish and eels. We know our residents cherish this Local Nature Reserve and I hope that many can join the community planting days, which are a unique opportunity to be part of this fantastic project.”

SERT is now preparing a series of community planting days, to take place in the Spring. These will give residents the chance to plant the vegetation to help the wetlands counter pollutants.

Schools, community groups and residents will be given opportunities to install plants that have been specifically selected to filter pollution, trap sediments and attract a variety of wildlife. Plants selected include yellow flag iris, ragged robin, purple loosestrife and brooklime.

In time, SERT will also offer guided walks and outdoor education sessions for school children. A nature trail is planned for families to interact with the wetlands as they develop, alongside information boards which will detail the reasons why the wetlands were needed and the types of wildlife that should be attracted.

Supported by the Hogsmill Catchment Partnership, the project has received funding from The Coca-Cola Foundation, Natural England (through the Species Recovery Programme), the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council, the Rivers Trust, the Zoological Society of London, Garfield Weston Foundation and Thames Water, with in-kind support from the landowner Epsom & Ewell Borough Council. The new wetlands are part of the wider Replenish programme in partnership with the Coca-Cola Foundation and the Rivers Trust. The aim of Replenish is to restore millions of litres of water in this and other local catchments, in turn improving biodiversity.

The construction of the wetland is expected to cost £1 million. We are proud to have a good mix of funding for this project, including private funding from Coca Cola, Thames Water and charitable grants, as well as public funding from the Environment Agency, Natural England and Surrey County Council.

It is estimated there are 200 chalk streams across the world, with about 160 of them in England, mostly in the south.

Related reports:

Voles let loose on the Hogsmill

Two petition river pollution correction

Local sewage uploaded

“Garden of Eden” coming to West Ewell as Wetlands Plan is approved. Will this stop pollution?

Grate find in Epsom’s Millennium Green

The found grate with Woodcote House and Millennium Green in background.

The Woodcote Millennium Green is unique in Surrey.  It comprises of an area of 7 acres, bounded by Woodcote Green Road to the north and the Woodcote Estate to the south and is located at the rear of Epsom General Hospital.

The land forming The Woodcote Millennium Green has passed through the ownership of monks, lords and developers over the last thousand years and now flourishes under the stewardship of a Trust whose members are passionate to retain the character of this landscape gem.

The land was originally part of the estate of the Manor of Horton, owned by Chertsey Abbey until the dissolution of the lesser monasteries in 1536-7.  After passing through several owners, the Manor passed to the sister-in-law of John Evelyn, the 17th Century diarist.  Woodcote House was re-built at this period, on a site which is now just south of the Millennium Green.

Woodcote House was acquired by Sir Edward Northey (1652-1723) in the late 17th Century and became the family seat to the Northey family for 250 years.  The present house dates mainly from the early 19th Century.  Photographs of the area show an open wooded landscape with cattle grazing by the pond.  The pond is shown on the earliest Ordnance Survey maps of Epsom and surroundings and must pre-date the mid 19th Century. 

In the late 1930s, Woodcote House and the surrounding land was sold to Earnest Harwood, whose building company developed most of the land for housing, forming The Woodcote Estate.  Woodcote House itself was subdivided into flats and has undergone a major refurbishment.

In 1999, the Harwood family donated a large portion of the remaining woodland including the pond to be held in perpetuity by the Trustees of The Woodcote Millennium Green Trust.  The Mayor of Epsom and Ewell officially opened The Woodcote Millennium Green in July 2000. 

Whilst The Millennium Green was once a 7-acre site of overgrown brambles, it has been transformed by residents and volunteers into the attractive piece of managed natural woodland that it is today.

It was during one of my own walks through the woodland that I discovered a cast iron fire grate close to the rear of Woodcote House that had been unearthed by tree roots.  Having obtained permission from one of the trustees of The Millennium Green to remove the fire grate, I contacted Bourne Hall Museum in Ewell and was later informed by one of the curator’s contacts that the cast iron fire grate is likely to date to the 19th Century and was probably used inside a room of Woodcote House prior to being replaced and buried in the ground at the back of the building. 

Four times a year The Woodcote Millennium Green Trust holds maintenance days to help with the upkeep of the green which can be found at the rear of Epsom General Hospital.  

It is a great community experience open to all ages and abilities so if you would like to get involved, or make a donation to fund maintenance and improvements, please email:


Improving Surrey’s rights of way


Surrey County Council is seeking the views of residents on the county’s Rights of Way to help drive improvements.

The county council is responsible for around 2,164 miles (3,482 km) of paths known as ‘public rights of way’ in both the countryside and urban areas. Accessing these paths is important for residents to enjoy and explore, travel to work or school and for health and wellbeing.

A public right of way is a path that anyone, by law, has the right to use. There are four types:

  • Footpaths for walking, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs
  • Bridleways for walking, horse riding, cycling, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs
  • Restricted byways for walking, horse riding, cycling, mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs and horse-drawn carriages
  • Byways for all modes including motorised vehicles.

Marisa Heath, Surrey County Council Cabinet Member for Environment said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for residents to share their views and really shape how we manage and improve our rights of way both in rural and urban areas. Exploring the countryside and being close to nature is so important for our health and wellbeing and also to understand the benefits of the natural environment we are doing our upmost to protect, so we want to support everyone by improving our networks.”

Residents are invited to feedback their views on Surrey’s Rights of Way network, sharing how they use them, their importance, what if anything may prevent residents from using them and how the council can support their needs. All views will help inform the new Rights of Way Improvement Plan which will be produced at the end of 2024.

The survey is open until 10 March 2024 and can be accessed on the Surrey Says website.

Image: newlandscorner jon hawkins surrey-hills-photography

Dedicated Epsom tree-man

Henry Ford tree man of epsom

Dedication event at Alexandra Recreation Ground honours local hero Mike Ford Epsom & Ewell, 3rd December 2023. In a heart warming event volunteers from Friends of Alexandra Park and the Epsom & Ewell Tree Advisory Board (EETAB), local councillors Steven McCormick, James Laurence and Bernie Muir, the Epsom & Ewell Tree Officer and the Mayor, Councillor Rob Geleit gathered on December 3rd at Alexander Recreation Ground to pay tribute to a beloved local figure, Mike Ford, affectionately known as ‘Mr. Tree.’

Mr. Ford has been a cornerstone of our community, dedicating countless hours to the preservation and enhancement of our natural environment. His unwavering commitment to the cause of tree conservation and environmental stewardship has left an indelible mark on Epsom & Ewell.

The dedication event served as a poignant moment to recognize and express gratitude for his exceptional contributions.

The event was opened by Howard Gregory the chair of EETAB with words from Kevin Greening and Simon Alford, EETAB members, before introducing the Mayor of Epsom & Ewell. The Epsom and Ewell Tree Officer then presented Mike with a collection of photographs taken when the original copse was planted.

In his speech Mayor Rob Geleit said “Mike is firmly rooted in his conviction that planting a tree today is an investment for the whole community, combating climate change and helping biodiversity as well as a thing of beauty in itself. His and the Epsom & Ewell Tree Advisory Board’s aim is ensure that they pass on to future generations a borough that is at least as leafy as the one we have all inherited.”

As well as speeches, the event included a symbolic tree layout for the planned rejuvenation of the Ford copse, and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to forever mark Mike Ford’s contributions at Alexander Recreation Ground.

The event concluded with a sense of community pride and a commitment to carrying forward Mr. Tree’s legacy.

For further information about Epsom & Ewell Tree Advisory Board:
Facebook: @EpsomEwellTreeAdvisoryBoard

Surrey Hills now a “National Landscape”

Surrey Hills landscape

All designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) in England and Wales are becoming National Landscapes, including the Surrey Hills National Landscape. The new name reflects their national importance; the vital contribution they make to protect the nation from the threats of climate change, nature depletion and the wellbeing crisis, whilst also creating greater understanding and awareness for the work that they do.

This is a significant milestone for the UK and the next step in fully realising the National Landscapes’ vision to be the leading exemplars of how thriving, diverse communities can work with and for nature in the UK: restoring ecosystems, providing food, storing carbon to mitigate the effects of climate change, safeguarding against drought and flooding, whilst also nurturing people’s health and wellbeing.

The Surrey Hills National Landscape was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958, the second to be designated in the country. It covers around a quarter of Surrey, the most wooded county in England, and is situated within the London Metropolitan Greenbelt with 1.5 million people living within 10km of the landscape. With rising national pressures regarding climate change, the biodiversity emergency the mental health crisis, the Surrey Hills as a National Landscape will better protect precious habitats such as heathland, downland and woodland which are home to important species, as well as providing space for people and nature to thrive.

Kathy Atkinson, Chair of the Surrey Hills National Landscape says:

“There’s often a healthy scepticism around talk of “re-branding” and people might reasonably ask, “What’s the point?” in calling the Surrey Hills a National Landscape instead of an ‘AONB’.

Firstly, the legal status of the Surrey Hills as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is unchanged. This amazing area retains the same protections in law as a National Park. As set out by the Glover review in 2019, AONBs are fragmented, misunderstood and often see even greater pressures with less resource. Glover recommended not only a renaming of ‘AONBs’ to National Landscapes, but the power which could follow in terms of a strengthened network, with increased funding, governance reform, and new shared purposes to help us fight against the challenges our protected landscapes may face.

We need to use this rebrand as a step change to how we connect with our protected landscapes. To excite and engage the widest possible public in the task of protecting the Surrey Hills, a cherished landscape that is under threat like never before. This is a critical decade for our natural world, and National Landscapes brings the opportunity to collectively reduce the impact of substantial threats from a National and localised perspective. So, I urge everyone to embrace our National Landscapes vision as a tool to help us support a healthy and thriving landscape, for nature and for people.

Text provided by Surrey Hills National Landscape

Related Reports:

Winter walks in the Surrey wilds

Oiling the wheels of justice on Surrey Hills

Image – Surrey Hills Credit Aleksey Maksimov CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

No reservations to put reserves in “Thames to Downs”

Part of Epsom and Ewell aerial view

Epsom & Ewell Council Eyes Inclusion of Local Natural reserves in the ‘Thames To Downs’ National Nature Reserve.

The Council’s Environment Committee 17th October debated an ambitious move to preserve its natural heritage and enhance biodiversity. The Council is considering the inclusion of several of its green spaces within the proposed ‘Thames To Downs National Nature Reserve’ (NNR). The council plans to report back to the committee if Natural England deems them suitable for this scheme.

The recommendation comes as a bid to consolidate and expand upon the Council’s ongoing efforts in managing biodiversity and public access within its open spaces. The move also carries the potential for national recognition, designating the council as an ‘Approved Body’ known for maintaining its land to the highest environmental standards on a permanent basis.

The NNR management criteria align with the council’s strategy of balancing biodiversity conservation with ensuring public access to these natural sanctuaries. Collaborating as part of the NNR partnership with neighboring landowners is anticipated to attract substantial external funding to aid in long-term land preservation and management.

Furthermore, inclusion in the NNR not only fulfills key service priorities but also demonstrates the council’s commitment to its statutory responsibilities. It aligns seamlessly with the ‘Biodiversity Duty’ and other environmental requirements, such as upcoming Local Nature Recovery Strategies.

The NNR status will not only showcase the borough as an exceptional place to live and work but also contribute significantly to preserving and expanding local biodiversity.

Epsom Common Local Nature Reserve (LNR), a site of national importance for nature, gained recognition as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) alongside Ashtead Common back in 1955. In the 2005-2015 Epsom Common Management Plan, the council committed to achieving a ‘Favorable’ SSSI condition assessment for Epsom Common. Subsequently, the goal was to apply for National Nature Reserve status, encompassing the entirety of the Epsom & Ashtead Commons SSSI as part of a National Nature Reserve.

The endeavor to secure NNR status for Epsom Common LNR is well-documented in the council’s current Epsom Common LNR Management Plan 2016-2116 and the Climate Change Action Plan.

An officer explained to the committee: “We are really keen that Epsom Common joins Ashtead Common in being declared a National Nature Reserve. We’ve all been set up for that for over a decade. It’s in the management plan; it’s Council policy to do that. But Natural England has changed its approach to National Nature Reserves in the last two or three years. They have put forward the offer to work with us and other partners to form a much larger, what they would term a super-national Nature Reserve, going from the Thames at Kingston to the North Downs.”

Cllr Julie Morris (LibDem College) raised the question what legal status such a NNR would have? Could landowners within them nevertheless develop their land? The officer answered: “Epsom Common, for example, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and that’s the strongest legal protection that you can afford a site like that. The other sites that are being put forward are in the Green Belt. They are sites of nature conservation importance. They have ancient woodlands. All of those are material considerations for a planning application. Alistair Helwell, who is the lead person at Natural England for National Nature Reserves, does make a point of saying it is a declaration, not a designation. So it doesn’t afford greater protection, but it does afford a greater level of kudos, obviously”

National Nature Reserves (NNRs) are vital for preserving significant habitats, species, and geology while serving as invaluable ‘outdoor laboratories’ for research. These reserves offer opportunities for schools, special interest groups, and the general public to directly experience wildlife and learn more about nature conservation.

Currently, England boasts 221 NNRs covering over 105,000 hectares of land, approximately 0.7% of the country’s surface. The largest among them is The Wash, sprawling over almost 8,800 hectares, while Dorset’s Horn Park Quarry is the smallest at 0.32 hectares. The five proposed sites in Epsom & Ewell together span an impressive 455 hectares, equivalent to 13.4% of the borough’s land.

A ‘Favorable’ SSSI condition assessment was successfully attained in 2010, prompting the council to commence the NNR application process. Unfortunately, due to funding cuts at Natural England, the application was postponed for nearly a decade. It was only in 2021 that the council was approached once again by Natural England, offering renewed prospects for an NNR application. In 2022, Natural England’s approach evolved, emphasizing the creation of more extensive landscape-scale NNRs in line with the government’s ‘Making Space For Nature’ initiative.

The council has been invited to put forward other sites under its ownership/management for possible inclusion in a landscape-scale NNR stretching from the Thames at Kingston to Box Hill on the North Downs.

Five potential sites in Epsom & Ewell, including Epsom Common Local Nature Reserve (LNR), Manor Open Space, Horton Country Park LNR, Hogsmill LNR, and Nonsuch Park, have been identified. Natural England has suggested an affiliate status for sites primarily designated for purposes other than nature conservation, such as Epsom Downs. It’s important to note that the inclusion of Nonsuch Park will require separate permission from the Nonsuch Park Joint Management Committee.

A comprehensive partnership with a variety of landowners is envisioned, including local authorities, Surrey Wildlife Trust, National Trust, Woodland Trust, Crown Estates, Merton College (Oxford), and City of London (Ashtead Common).

The unanimous decision of the committee to include the named sites within Epsom & Ewell for consideration will be followed by assessments of their suitability and the council’s capability as an ‘Approved Body’ for managing an NNR.

Epsom Common Association: A History of Conservation and Biodiversity

Founded in 1974 by local residents deeply concerned about the state of Epsom Common and the looming threats to its existence, the Epsom Common Association has since been a stalwart defender of this natural haven. The roots of their mission trace back to the 1930s when borough and county planners contemplated the construction of an Epsom bypass, with a road cutting across the Common at the forefront of their plans.

By the 1960s and 70s, these proposals began to take concrete shape, much to the dismay of the community. In response, determined local individuals rallied to form the Epsom Common Association, a pivotal moment in the ongoing debate that would rage on throughout the following decades.

One of their early triumphs was the restoration of the Great Pond, a landmark achievement completed in 1979. Yet, their work encompassed a broader range of objectives:

  1. Preserving the Common: The Association was committed to safeguarding the Common from any potential housing or construction projects, road developments, or encroachments.
  2. Enhancing Amenity Value: Their mission extended to preserving and enhancing the Common’s amenity value for all users.
  3. Conservation of Biodiversity: Recognizing the Common’s unique status as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), they sought to maintain and enhance a diverse range of habitats for various wildlife species.
  4. Nature Reserve Status: Their efforts also aimed at maintaining the Local Nature Reserve status and advocating for National Nature Reserve status.
  5. Contributing to Conservation: The Association played a vital role in conservation work through their volunteer team, ECoVols. These volunteers were engaged in various tasks, including scrub clearance, charcoal burning, tree planting, and bracken reduction.

To keep their members informed, the Association produces three newsletters each year, covering recent activities, wildlife observations, news, and potential threats. They also maintain an active online presence through their website and a Facebook page. See www.epsomcommon.org.uk

The Association’s governance is facilitated by a Committee, elected annually during the AGM. This Committee includes representatives from Epsom & Ewell Borough Council and the Lower Mole Partnership, ensuring collaboration and effective management.

Membership of the Association is just £3.00 per household, and an additional £2.00 for postal members, making it accessible to a wide range of residents.

Epsom Common, though no longer a pristine wilderness untouched by human influence, has been integral to the local community for centuries. From its historical use for grazing animals and gathering firewood to wartime cultivation, the Common has a rich heritage intertwined with human activity.

To guide its future as a public nature reserve and promote biodiversity, the Epsom & Ewell Borough Council unveiled a Hundred Year Management Plan (2016-2116), approved by Natural England. The Association wholeheartedly endorsed this long-term approach and commitment to biodiversity conservation.

In their bid to create a mosaic of habitats and maintain a balance between grassland and woodland, the Association undertakes various management activities. These include the removal of young secondary woodland to restore lost grassland and heath, as well as the reintroduction of summer cattle grazing.

A success story of their strategy lies in the thriving butterfly population on the Common. It now hosts a range of butterfly species, from woodland dwellers like the Purple Emperor and White Admiral to grassland species like the Meadow Brown and Marbled White.

The diverse habitats have not only benefited butterflies but also thousands of other flora and fauna, including plants, fungi, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

The Association ensures active engagement with its members through events such as two annual evening meetings featuring guest speakers on topics related to the Common’s heritage and natural history.

Additionally, they organize natural history walks led by experienced naturalists, covering topics like butterflies, wildflowers, bush crickets, birds, fungi, and bats. These walks provided valuable insights into the richness of the Common’s ecosystem.

The Association’s commitment to conservation extends to the welfare of cattle on the Common, with members responsible for daily health and security checks.

Another intriguing facet of their work is charcoal production, a monthly endeavor from February to November. The charcoal is made from felled trees on Epsom and Ashtead Commons.

Finally, conservation task days, carried out from January to May and September to November, involve both hand tools and some power machinery. These efforts are conducted in close coordination with the Epsom & Ewell Borough Council and Natural England.

As the Association looks ahead, their plans include the removal of young trees to enhance wetland meadows, continued scrub and young tree removal to improve habitat for heathers and flowering plants, and hand-pulled bracken during the summer months to encourage grasses, meadow flowers, and heathers.

In sum, the Epsom Common Association stands as a shining example of community-led conservation efforts, dedicated to preserving the beauty, biodiversity, and heritage of the Epsom Common for generations to come.

You can get involved in the upcoming activities:

Sunday 15th & Monday 16th October at the Great Pond:
Removal of young trees along part of the eastern margin to open up a small wet land meadow for benefit of wild flowers and water fowl.

Sunday 19th & Monday 20th November at Bramble Heath:
Removal of scrub and young trees to maintain the open area and improve habitat for heathers and flowering plants.

Related reports:

Epsom Common Green Flagged again

Epsom Common Bird Walk Poem

Uncommon commitment to the Common

Epsom horse owners asked to take survey

Retired race horse

Britain’s inaugural Thoroughbred Census has been initiated, inviting former racehorse owners to partake in the survey open until December 31, 2023. The primary aim is to enhance the traceability of retired racehorses.

About the Census: The census is a collaborative effort with Retraining of Racehorses (RoR), the official aftercare charity of British Racing, funded by the Racing Foundation. It receives support from World Horse Welfare and Weatherbys General Stud Book and is coordinated with experts from Hartpury University. This initiative is a crucial component of British Racing’s Horse Welfare Board’s five-year welfare strategy, ‘A Life Well Lived.’ The project’s objective is to enhance the traceability of thoroughbreds after their racing careers conclude.

The Census seeks to address a recognized data gap resulting from infrequent updates to equine identification documents (passports) once thoroughbreds transition into private ownership. By improving data accuracy, British Racing and RoR aim to provide enhanced support to owners, including access to educational resources and avenues for competition if desired. Additionally, it fosters informed and supportive communities. Furthermore, it equips the Horse Welfare Board and RoR to enhance and adapt welfare initiatives and facilitates rapid and effective communication in the event of an equine disease outbreak.

Helena Flynn, Programme Director of the Horse Welfare Board, stated, “This campaign will help us emphasize responsible ownership and the critical role every thoroughbred owner plays in ensuring the accuracy of their equine identification document (passport).”

What Information Does the Census Require? To complete the survey, owners must provide the horse’s equine identification document (passport) number, microchip number, age, current residence, second career, and other pertinent details to compile a comprehensive dataset for retired British racehorses in 2023.

Why is an Additional Objective of the Census Necessary? Typically, new horse owners are expected to update ownership information within 30 days. During their racing careers, this information is meticulously maintained by breeders, owners, and trainers in the Weatherbys General Stud Book. However, data for former racehorses significantly declines when they enter private ownership after retiring from racing, with equine identification document (passport) compliance averaging just 20% across the equestrian community. This decline may stem from a lack of awareness regarding the importance of this phase, uncertainty about associated costs, a reluctance to update documents even after a horse has passed away, and a general disinterest in participating in the process.

Therefore, an additional goal of the census is to engage with private owners to encourage them to review and, if necessary, update their horse’s equine identification card (passport). Moreover, owners of horses previously registered with licensed British trainers will be invited to register their horses for free with RoR.

David Catlow, Managing Director of Retraining of Racehorses, emphasized, “The ‘social license’ for the use of horses in sport is under increasing scrutiny, with the welfare of former racehorses after retirement being a specific concern. This initiative is a significant stride toward ensuring thoroughbreds enjoy a healthy and caring existence throughout their lives, while also providing the racing industry with pertinent data to inform future decisions.”

To complete the form, please visit: https://uwe.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_8bNJFzR2FB95ZlQ

Participation in the census is voluntary, but owners are strongly encouraged to join the community and contribute. Full findings will be disclosed in the first quarter of 2024.