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 2017:
The edges of the Racecourse between Major York's and Hungershall Park that were cleared of holly have now had the stumps ground out and the newly created margin has been graded to permit easy future maintenance. The clearance on the path from the Spa Hotel to Fir Tree Road has been seeded and has now started to green up, as has the large area cleared of cherry laurel near St Paul's Church at Happy Valley. Some further thinning of trees in this area is probably required to maximise the value of the clearance by permitting more light to the herb layer.
The area adjacent to Castle Road that was cleared of scrub has also been seeded and already has a good covering of grass. The area was again stump ground and the topsoil was pushed to the edge of the road to form a bund to prevent vehicle access. We discovered that this area was formed of a pocket of thick clay. In view of this, we dug a
potential new pond within the clearance and diverted a drainage ditch to feed it. At present it is simply a hole in the ground and we will not know if it is viable until we have significant rain. If it does hold water, it will be a welcome extra habitat in an area that currently has no standing water.
This same area has, in recent years, become increasingly affected by Himalayan balsam. This invasive alien plant thrives in damp soils such as exist in this area of the Common. It has all been sprayed again this year but there will probably still be residual seed that will require treatment next year.
The height restriction barrier has now been installed at Fir Tree Road car park, as has clear signage at the bottom of the road, warning of the height restriction and the lack of any turning area.
The Coming Season
The new steps leading to Fir Tree pond are due to be installed [this] week and the second flight, which will improve access from the new trail running parallel to the Tarry Path to the clearance near Rusthall Road, will be installed soon after. The extension to the surfaced path that runs from the Marlpit Pond towards Common View will be undertaken towards the end of July.
As we move into the late summer, we will be starting on our routine clearance of all paths and tracks around the Commons, followed by the cutting and clearance of our clearings and meadow areas. This year we will be starting to implement some of the ideas from the new management plan and this will be noticeable on these meadow sites. We will be leaving sections of these areas uncut to start to develop greater structure and age range within the grassland and thereby increase biodiversity. The grass will then be cut on rotational basis to prevent succession into scrub.
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 10.00, 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 next winter will be posted in the autumn.
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: 12/07/2017