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Since the great storm of 1987, the Conservators have taken a more active approach towards the management of the Commons.  Until this year (2017), we have been following a management plan produced for the Commons by Kent Wildlife Trust.  This plan balanced biodiversity and conservation with the needs of the many Commons users.

This year a new management plan has been adopted by the Conservators which is similar to the previous one although the emphasis has changed slightly.

The Management Plan 2017 can be read here, and the previous one, the 2005 Management Plan, can be read here. 

Current Work

This is an extract from the Wardens report for December 2018:

Lack of availability of contractors has been an issue throughout the period, with our main contractors being somewhat overwhelmed by work.  Attempts to find alternatives has had mixed success.  In spite of this, most of the work scheduled for the period up to December has been carried out, although some is still underway. The annual cut of our long grass and meadow areas has been completed but the clearance of all our minor paths and tracks is still continuing. The cutting of surfaced path edges has commenced now that the leaves are mostly down. The main drainage ditch alongside the Racecourse to the North of Major York's Road has been dug out and the culverts cleared.

The remote-controlled flail was used to cut the steep bank below Mount Ephraim and proved to be a cost effective method of clearance on this difficult terrain.

The roadside tree survey is underway and the trees already identified as in need of remedial works have now been made safe.

As ever, we have had to clear a number of camps from the Common.  Several old abandoned camps emerged as the leaves started to fall, with over thirty bags of rubbish having to be cleared from the worst of them.

The Friends volunteer group have carried out their first couple of work parties for this season.  The first work party removed reedmace from Cabbage Stalk Lane pond and cleared willow from the margins; invading birch scrub was cleared from the regenerating heather site near Castle Road the following month.  This heather area is doing very well and certainly justifies the efforts made there.  The volunteers also cut back birch saplings and bramble on the edge of the site to allow the cutting of the holly near London Road.  The holly trees were subsequently reduced in height to maintain them as a hedge against road noise.  

We have also had the first of two visits from the Kent High Weald volunteers, funded by the Freehold Tenants.  This group did excellent work clearing birch and bramble from the heather site below the Royal Victoria Grove, as well as removing bramble from amongst the ant hills in the adjacent grass.

I am delighted to report the formation of another volunteer group by residents of Apsley Street, who will concentrate on their immediate area.  They have already cleared some of the rock faces there and hopefully they will be able to keep them clear in future.  The labour-intensive nature of keeping this site properly maintained without grazing is beyond our current budget, so this work is particularly valuable


The Coming Season

The next task for the volunteers will be the clearance of gorse from the slopes of Happy Valley at the Beacon end of the site.

Please follow this link to read the full text of all the recent Warden's Reports.
Although all the work requiring specialists or equipment is done by professionals, the Conservators rely heavily on the goodwill of volunteers to do much of the clearing through the autumn, winter and spring.  These voluntary work parties are organised by the Friends of Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall Commons, and meet on the first Saturday of the month from October to March at 10.30, usually at the Fir Tree Road car park.   Everyone is very welcome, however little or much you can do.   If you do plan to join, please let us know so that we can confirm where we are meeting.

These are the dates for this winter:

6 October 2018
3 November 2018
1 December 2018
5 January 2019
2 February 2019
2 March 2019

If you haven't helped before and would like further information, please contact the Warden at the office on 01892 554250 or by email at info@twcommons.org.  Alternatively, pay a visit to the Friends website.  You can join the Friends using their membership page.


Page last updated: 19/12/2018