During October Half Term, we teamed up with Leatherhead Youth Project to carry out two days of practical conservation work as part of their ‘Making Good Project’. This is a project which aims to get young people engaged with communities through positive action projects.
The first day was spent at Newlands Corner, which is part of Surrey County Council’s Countryside Estate. This area is made up of both woodland and chalk grassland, which is very important for insects particularly butterflies. Here, the group met the Surrey Choices Growth Team. The Growth Team comprises of a group of adults with learning disabilities who carry out important conservation and access work across Surrey. They have been working up at Newlands Corner, to clear encroaching bramble and scrub from the grassland to encourage its restoration but also to help open up the viewpoint and create more places for people to sit.
The group split into two, one group off to tackle the scrub with the Growth Team, while the other half of the group, worked on assembling a bug hotel using recycled signposts and wood from the countryside.
They did this in the recently opened Discovery Centre, which was a brilliant space and great for the group to experience. After a scenic lunch and quick mooch around the Dormice Trail, the groups switched over so that everyone could experience both activities.
On the second day, the young people met us at Banstead Heath for a day of tree popping alongside the Banstead Commons Conservators. Tree popping involves removing small unwanted trees by the root, to avoid them growing back. This is done by using a tree popper – essentially a giant lever which grips the tree in its jaw.
We were really impressed by the grit and determination of everyone and the competition to see who could achieve the longest root was met with enthusiasm. We were also very lucky to see an adder basking in the late October sunshine, proof that the work we were doing was important for the heathland species that live there.
It was great for the young people to work in partnership with three different organisations, learning new skills and enjoying being together outside.
It was particularly rewarding for the Growth Team to be able to show the group from Leatherhead Youth Project what they do and for them to work together in partnership for the benefit of people and nature.
Thank you so much to everybody that was involved in making the two days a success!
Project and Volunteer Coordinator