SURREY Wildlife Trust has received a £48,000 cash injection to finance access improvements at Chobham Common.
The south eastern part of the nature reserve suffers from substandard accessibility, namely undefined bridleways and footpaths which visitors often get lost trying to follow.
This leads to an increase in soil erosion, while during the winter any faint pathways are made impassable by flooding.
The funding – awarded by SITA Trust; an organisation dedicated to making lasting improvements to the natural environment and community life – will facilitate the improvement of a major access track on to the common, as well as providing the opportunity to tell the story of an intriguing area of the common.
Though a scheduled ancient monument, the reserve’s Bee Garden has a history that remains a mystery and many have debated the origin of this large earthwork.
The remains of a Napoleonic fort, a Roman building, or even a medieval Bee Garden supplying highly sought after honey and beeswax to pay local tithes have all been considered as the function of this familiar local feature.
When completed, with the help of volunteers and local contractors, the project will provide visitors with the opportunity to walk or ride a number of circular routes along the improved tracks.
The project will also improve the biodiversity of species on Chobham Common by removing invasive rhododendron, creating new pond habitats and creating woodland glades.
Steve Fry, Surrey Wildlife Trust Ranger for Chobham Common said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to improve the public’s access to this inspiring site while, at the same time, protecting its rare wildlife.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of Chobham Parish Council, Chobham Common Riders Association and the county council’s Rights of Way team who have enabled these much needed improvements.”
Marianne Ivin of SITA Trust added: “This project was supported through the trust’s Accessing Nature Fund and is a wonderful demonstration of how organisations can ensure that wildlife is protected while allowing the public the opportunity to fully appreciate its varied beauty and the benefits it has to offer.”
SITA Trust provides grants through the Landfill Communities Fund. This important source of funding has been available since 1997 and has provided such worthy projects with more than £1.4 billion.