Biodiversity at a Crowborough park is “thriving”

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A conservation expert has said that a park on the edge of Crowborough is ‘thriving’ with biodiversity thanks to a ‘sensitive management regime’.

Wealden District Council owns and manages Walshes Park, a Sustainable Alternative Natural Green Space – knowns as a SANGS, with its partner Chaffin Works undertaking the day-to-day maintenance.

The management system, which has attracted new species of plants, birds and butterflies, has been praised by Kevin Crook, an assistant director at a London council who is highly regarded within the conservation and biodiversity sector and set up Crowborough Wildlife Group.

Mr Crook said that while England has lost approximately 98% of its flower-rich grassland, Walshes Park has some wonderful unimproved meadows, and they are left to bloom all year, with an annual cut in the autumn.

Some areas are left uncut for longer periods, which maximises the benefits for overwintering invertebrates and small mammals. Wildflowers such as Sneezewort and Devil’s-bit Scabious, indicator species of unimproved grassland, are increasing in frequency as a result.

Some hedges are being allowed to thicken and spill out, providing perfect habitat for a wide range of nesting birds. As a result, rarer species such as Whitethroat and Stonechat were recorded in 2022. Butterflies are doing particularly well at Walshes Park. In 2021 the Dingy Skipper was recorded for the first time – in good numbers across several different areas of the park.

This butterfly is a priority species under the UKs Biodiversity Action Plan and a Section 41 species of principal importance under the 2006 Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act.

Two new species of butterfly were recorded in Walshes Park for the first time in 2022 – the Marbled White and Brown Argus. Neither of these species would have been recorded anywhere near Crowborough until very recently but both species are currently expanding their ranges locally, although they are still a rare sight.

A 4km transect around Walshes Park has been created by a local resident as part of the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme, which sees all butterflies within a 5m wide strip along the transect recorded weekly from April to September. A total of 3,187 butterflies were counted during the 2022 transect, with the two commonest species being Meadow Brown (1,497) and Gatekeeper (928).

A total of 20 species were recorded and the best time to see butterflies was July, with a peak of 532 butterflies counted on one day along the transect (15th July).

Residents are getting involved with other survey work and conservation management, focusing on The Triangle Field, which has some of the richest unimproved grassland of the whole site.

Crowborough Wildlife Group has been recording plants and other wildlife and working to remove invasive species such as Bracken and Himalayan Balsam. During 2022 a total of 71 species of plant were noted just in this one field, with a number of new species recorded for the first time, including Wild Angelica and Common-spotted Orchid.

Councillor Pam Doodes, the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Climate Change, said:

It’s excellent news that biodiversity in Walshes Park is improving so rapidly.

Thanks to the sensitive management of the park, it has achieved brilliant results for flora and fauna not seen before in the area, and I’m sure it will continue to produce outstanding results for the area.

Cllr Doodes

Councillor Philip Lunn, Crowborough South East and the Council’s Portfolio Holder for Commercial, Economic Development and Leisure, said:

Having been very much involved with Walshes Park from early development stages, I have seen it flourish and am immensely proud of what we have achieved. The park is one of Wealden’s gems.

Cllr Lunn

Click to see more information see the website Crowborough Wildlife Group or contact Kevin via crowwildgroup@gmail.com to get involved in conservation work.

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1 COMMENT

  1. We would love to visit Walshes Park and see all the Biodiversity. When we visited it was full of dogs, many off their leashes and romping everywhere. Not everyone, especially young children, enjoys having dogs running up to them and jumping up act them. I do not either and I am sure I am not alone. Can there please be a fenced area for dogs and their walkers, in the interests of safety, and to make it an enjoyable experience for everyone, walkers, young children and the elderly too. There is plenty of space to make this possible.

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