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.
This is an extract from the Wardens report for June 2019:
Spring is traditionally our quietest work period on the Commons as nesting is underway. Inevitably, there have still been some fallen trees and branches to clear from paths after windy weather, as well as sight lines requiring clearance at road junctions, but otherwise we have left nature in peace. Our amenity grass cutting regime is well underway and we have already reached the fourth of our scheduled twelve cuts. The frequency of cuts should slow as the summer progresses and our sandy soils become increasingly parched.
We installed new anti-parking posts at Lower Green Road and outside the Church Hall on Rusthall Road. We have put in two new litter bins on Tunbridge Wells Common, one on Mt Ephraim and the other on the path from the station; both are being well used. Our new bylaw signs have also been installed. Our annual programme of bench restoration is currently underway, with eight seats being sanded and repainted at Tunbridge Wells and two at Rusthall.
Sadly, the longer, warmer evenings also attract groups of youths who have fires on and around the Wellington Rocks. This year has been particularly bad, with large quantities of rubbish and broken glass having to be cleared before family groups arrive to enjoy the rocks in the morning. The Police are aware of these problems and visit the area on occasion, but it remains a persistent problem.
On a very much happier note, large numbers of very young children and their parents were introduced to the Commons by the Wild Child events that were organised by the Friends. These were forest schools run by staff from the Kent High Weald Partnership, that offered delights such as mud-play, hammock-play, fire lighting and the cooking and consuming of lots of marshmallows. The eventswere very popular and extremely well attended.
We are currently preparing for Britain in Bloom judging, which will be taking place a few days before our June meeting.
The Coming Season
As we move into the next work period we will start on the annual maintenance and clearance of our paths and cleared areas. The hedging flail has already been in once to cut roadside verges and the first cut of selected paths has started. Most of this will be done with the compact flail but the big collector flail will also be in to cut and clear some of the wider paths. Meadow areas will be cleared later in the year after flowering and seeding.
I hope also to be able to carry out the first of this year’s tasks funded by the Freehold Tenants, the clearance of a section of reeds and invading scrub at the eastern end of Brighton Lake. This vegetation has built up over many years and is part of the natural process of succession to which all stillwaters are subject. Our intention is to reverse the process to a limited degree, whilst leaving a good stand of the Reedmace and sedges which are a useful extra habitat for birds and many invertebrates.
The effects of Chalara, the ash dieback disease, are showing very clearly across the Commons. Rusthall Common has many more ash trees than Tunbridge Wells and a drive along Rusthall Road is a sobering experience. The trees came into leaf very late and then leaf has been very sparse; they stand out very clearly in the woodland. Current advice remains to leave them where possible in the hope that resistant trees may exist but obviously safety has to be a major consideration, especially near roads and paths.
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.
The dates for this winter will be posted here in September.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, pay a visit to the Friends website. You can join the Friends using their membership page.
Page last updated: 05/08/2019