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Blackheath Heathlands

Blackheath is a landscape that has been heavily influenced by human activity. Bronze age farmers cleared areas of forest for cultivation but on the surrey grasslands where the soils were very thin and sandy, the nutrients were quickly lost. This resulted in a tree-less landscape inhabited with heather and gorsebush.

During World War Two the Canadian army were based on the common which excluded villagers and livestock from the heath. This marked the end of a long period of grazing Blackheath, and the birch and pine seeds invaded the area. Woodland developed with the loss of 40% of valuable lowland heath since 1950. With the current management work carried out by Waverley Borough Council, a number of areas have been restored to heathland.

Parts of Blackheath are designated Sites of Specific Scientific Interes (SSSI) to protect ground nesting birds, butterflies, beetles, adders and some lizards. Todays heathland needs constant management to prevent the invasion of shrubs and to ensure the continued survival of these rare species. To encourage this, the scots pine trees are regularly felled and areas of open heather are cleared of shrub. Volunteers are most welcome to support this important work.

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