Bitchet is a very special place. The Common, that forms part of the Knole Estate, was once a lowland heath, one of the rarest environments on earth, supporting a variety of wildlife.
But over the years, changes to the way the Common is managed together with non-native plants becoming widespread has led to a decline in this rare heathland habitat. Paths and bridleways have also become overgrown making Bitchet less accessible for people.
To bring Bitchet back to its former glory, Kent Wildlife Trust and Sevenoaks District Council are restoring five and a half hectares of heathland by removing introduced species of rhododendron and birch and turning the soil to expose the seeds from native heathland plants, which have laid dormant for years. Turning the soil will reduce bracken growth. These works will make the ecosystem better for plants and animals.
At the same time, paths and bridleways will be opened up so ramblers, dog walkers, horse riders, cyclists and families can enjoy the Common.
The Bitchet Common restoration is part of the wider Sevenoaks Greensand Commons Project working across eight commons in Westerham, Sevenoaks and Seal.
Sevenoaks District Council, working with Kent Wildlife Trust and others, secured £483,600 from the National Lottery Grants Heritage Fund and £48,970 from the Enovert Community Fund. Further match funding has been provided by parish and town councils, landowners and contributions of volunteer time.
Volunteering opportunities are open to all, including younger and older people, people with disabilities and those living with memory issues. No previous experience is necessary.
For details of volunteering opportunities, contact Clare Russell, Conservation Officer, on 01732 227000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org