GPM Ecology has been monitoring a series of three reservoirs on the Sussex coastal-plain in spring 2019. We were not surprised to pick-up the European-protected Great Crested Newts within two of the Reservoirs (a high count of only 5 adults), which were known to breed very close-by.
However, we were surprised to find Water-vole colonising one of the reservoirs since vegetation had grown-up during Spring and having to travel 100m from a stream crossing a meadow and road to reach the reservoir. In another reservoir we spotted European Eel, now IUCN critically endangered, suffering a massive population decline across Europe.
As part of Continued Professional Development (CPD) training, Gareth attended a workshop presented by South Downs National Park Planning Team, to introduce the new Local Plan to be adopted in July 2019. The Plan draws on the recently launched National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF, February 2019), with an emphasis on consideration to conserve and enhance Landscape Character and Ecosystem Services, including for example Carbon Storage and Pollination maps. One of the three guiding principles of the Local Plan in the determination of planning applications, is to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the National Park.
On 30th March 2019 Morden Park Leisure Centre was officially opened by teenage European champion diver Eden Cheng. The leisure centre includes a small wadi, with frogs spawning in the first year of completion. After festivities Gareth pruned willow trees nearby at Merton's last remaining great crested newt (GCN) breeding pond. Following restoration in November 2016 it will need annual scrub-management.
Later in April we conducted survey training with the Friends of Morden Park, picking-up 6 GCN within bottle-traps. GPM Ecology can conduct Pond-health Checks for amphibians and deliver bespoke training for local conservation groups... Contact us for more information.
In February GPM Ecology conducted a final visit to replace diseased trees and remove tree-guards (re-purposed for vine-planting) at a project on the River Wey, Wrecclesham on behalf of VIVID, Hampshire's lead housing association. Gareth has worked at this site since 2006, conducting a reptile survey on behalf of Surrey Wildlife Trust and then in 2010 supervised a reptile translocation and habitat management works on behalf of Sentinel Homes, which in 2016 became VIVID. Through the newly created SABCOP GPM Ecology will have further involvement at this site, having been commissioned by VIVID to create a Community Orchard on site.
In December under the supervision of landscape gardener Nicky Webber, Watts Gallery Gardeners teamed-up to make Christmas Wreaths selling them at the Galleries Christmas Fair, making a staggering £1,500, towards planting-up the grounds. In January Gareth picked-up three heritage apples and one pear tree brought through wreath sales, with the team planting them into the existing orchard.
Trees included Knobby Russet, a knobbly-shaped eating apple raised in Midhurst dating from 1820, Charles Ross a dual-purpose apple raised in 1890 Berkshire, Arthur Turner a prized cooker from 1915 Slough and Onwards a disease resistant pear raised by RHS Wisley in 1947.