On the 18th November CROW was joined by volunteers from the Bracknell office of Quintiles, a company involved in the management of clinical drug trials, for a day of heathland restoration - cutting and burning birch, gorse and Scots pine scrub.
Due to the changes in farmland management and the pressures of urbanisation over the last century, much lowland heath has been lost both in the UK and across the rest of Europe, endangering the wildlife to be found there including birds such as the nightjar, Dartford warbler and woodlark. At Padworth Common the danger is that birch will overwhelm the heath and the area will become woodland. In the past the scrub would have been controlled by the presence of cattle and horses, and it is the intention to eventually have ponies once more gazing the site.
Although the forecasting had been promising, the day started damp and the dismal conditions continued until by early afternoon a steady rain had set in. Despite this a considerable area was cleared. If by lunchtime spirits had started to wane they were soon raised by the potatoes brought along by Sarah, the West Berkshire countryside ranger, and baked by her on the bonfire.
Feedback from the Quintiles' volunteers indicates they enjoyed themselves and these photo's kindly provided by them, seem to provide confirmation.
Whilst the value of this work may not be immediately obvious, return again in summer when the heather is in bloom and see the lizards and other creatures that live there and remember all this would be lost if the heath were allowed to become a birch woodland.
And another one bits the dust.
Whatever else we might hope to achieve, we expect our volunteers to enjoy themselves.
... and gloves by BTCV.
Our thanks to all our volunteers and in particular those from Quintiles, for making the day a success. We hope to see you again on a future task.