Good Progress on the Heath
Parish Councillor Phil Spencer is pleased to report on the good progress that has been made on West Bergholt Heath.
The Management Strategy for West Bergholt heath appears to be bearing the first signs of fruit this Summer. The plan drawn up by Place Services (a public sector provider of environmental assessment, planning and consultation) and implemented with the help of our own village handymen. It aims to restore the original acid grassland heath in the area around the school. Lowland heath is a rare and threatened habitat covering less than 0.3% of England’s land area. The UK has about 20% of the total of this habitat across the world, and under the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan is a priority habitat.
Left to it’s own devices for too long the site, in the centre of the village, has degraded over the years with scrub and deciduous woodland encroaching. Two years ago the Parish Council asked Place Services to undertake an ecological survey and to suggest a suitable management plan.
Now with the successful implementation of the Management Strategy some typical acid heath land species are making a dramatic comeback. Heather and harebells in particular are resurging, currently flowering with help from favourable weather this year.
Work Still in Progress
We still have a long way to go, and need to re-double our efforts in reducing the bracken and gorse which out compete everything else if left unchecked. Tackling nutrient enrichment is also important – as rich soils encourage more competitive invasive species. Consequently dog waste bins are sited around the heath.
Used by Many
Many use the site for different reasons; neither nature reserve nor waste land, enhancing it environmentally creates a habitat which is not common in Essex. Please enjoy it; there are interesting things to see like lizards or slow worms as well as the heather and hare bells.