Surrey Heathland Partnership
The Surrey Heathland Partnership has been looking after beautiful lowland heathland sites for over 25 years. We work with a wide range of partners, clients and parish councils to manage the valuable heaths principally across the west of the county and into the southeast of England.
What services does the Surrey Heathland Partnership offer?
The major role of the Surrey Heathland Partnership is contract management. The team's first hand extensive knowledge of heathland management helps to ensure work is delivered by contractors to the highest standard and at competitive prices for its partners/clients:
- We work to raise awareness of heathland and promote its value to local communities (residents and companies)
- We provide essential best practice/specialist guidance to heathland owners and managers
- We assist with grant applications and preparing management plans
- We organise and run practical land management work, working in close contact with approved countryside contractors
- We run/manage grazing programmes on some heathland sites for our partner authorities
What is heathland?
Lowland heathland is an open landscape generally covered in heathers, gorse and tree scrub. It can also include bracken, acid grassland, bogs, bare sandy or peaty ground, scattered trees and water.
In Surrey there are two main heathland types: the Thames Basin heaths in the north west of the county and the Wealden Greensand heaths in the south west and centre. Additionally there is some heathland overlying the chalk of the North Downs.
Map of heathland in Surrey
Why is it important to maintain the rare heathland habitat?
Two hundred years ago heathland covered most of West Surrey but now less than a fifth of this original heathland remains. It's been mainly lost due to urban development, unmanaged forestry encroachment and general neglect. Lowland heathland is an internationally rare and unique habitat, supporting a variety of specialised plants and wildlife.
In Surrey 85% of the heathland has been lost in just 200 years, leading to a severe loss of biodiversity. In recent decades heathland has been recognised for its wildlife value and its historical and cultural interest, and much is now protected from development.
Surrey heathland is vitally important for biodiversity, wildlife and people
Although the number of characteristic heathland species is small, our heathland supports internationally important numbers of three ground-nesting bird species - the nightjar, woodlark and Dartford warbler.
Lowland heathland in Surrey is extremely important for invertebrates, especially insects and spiders, and many rare and characteristic species occur.
Reptiles and amphibians
Surrey is one of only three counties in the British Isles which support all of the native heathland reptiles and amphibians, including the rare and specially protected sand lizard, smooth snake and Natterjack toad.
Find out more about the targeted management work we do and why, about protecting and enhancing rare species and much more in our Surrey Heathland Partnership overview of Surrey's heathland (PDF).
Fires on heathland
As with all open areas of the countryside, there is a risk of fire breaking out and there is a constant need to educate people in fire awareness and prevention. Firefighters from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service attend large numbers of heath fires each year, especially when there has been long spells of hot dry summer weather, so we all need to be careful and vigilant in this respect.
Volunteering to support Surrey's heathland
The Surrey Heathland Partnership does not run a weekly volunteer task programme like the other two Surrey Countryside Partnerships, but can sometimes offer bespoke volunteering sessions for larger groups (10+) by special arrangement in the partnership area, principally during the autumn/winter scrub clearance season. Please send any enquiries initially by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Countryside Partnership Officer (Heathland): Marcus Turley
Surrey Countryside Partnerships - Countryside Partnerships Operations Manager: Helen Cocker
Surrey Countryside Partnerships - Partnership Development Officer: Debbie Hescott (part time)
Address: Surrey Heathland Partnership, Whitebeam Lodge, Surrey County Council Merrow Depot, Merrow Lane, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7BQ
Telephone: 01483 579713