Crawley College students have been volunteering to help support the management of the Tilgate Park heathland.
Heathland is one of the UK’s most threatened habitats, despite its importance to the country’s ecosystem. It attracts a wide variety of wildlife, including roe deer, summer warblers and adders as well as smaller critters such as wood ants and butterflies.
The students worked with the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership to help carry out some important heathland management tasks to remove birch trees from the heathland. By removing tree saplings from these areas ensures the light levels and temperatures are maintained for the animals and insects that inhabit the heath.
Beth Hutchinson, Student Experience Co-ordinator at Crawley College, said: “It’s really important that heathlands are given the opportunity to thrive and not revert to wooded areas and the work our students did will help to maintain and increase biodiversity in the area.”
Student President Chloe Harrison reflected on the experience and said: “Volunteering is really important to us, as a college, and gives our students an opportunity to take part in experiences that wouldn’t normally be available to them and to give back to their local community.
“Hearing everyone muse about sustainability, the use of resources and countryside management and start thinking about what we need rather than what we want was really interesting and it opened my own eyes.”
Amanda, another of the student volunteers, added: “For me, it was an enjoyable day because we all got to know a little bit more about all the work that people are constantly putting in to Tilgate Park to maintain the preserve species that live in the area, and we also experienced ourselves the complexity of the tasks and the effort that it really takes to complete them.”