Bringing Back Bitchet | Sevenoaks District Council

Bringing Back Bitchet

Published: Wednesday, 14th August 2019

Kent Wildlife Trust and Sevenoaks District Council are working on an exciting project to restore Bitchet Common in Seal, thanks to funding from Enovert Community Fund & National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Residents and visitors to Bitchet Common are being invited to a drop-in information session on Saturday 31 August from 8.30am to 3pm to find out about the work being done. The sessions will give some background into the site’s rare and valuable heathland habitat and forthcoming works to restore Bitchet Common for wildlife and people.

On the day, visitors will be able to see display boards detailing the work, have the chance to talk to the staff involved and have a guided walk onto the project site. These will take place at 9am, 10:30am, 12:00pm and 1:30pm. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about the volunteering opportunities available.

Cllr Margot McArthur, Cabinet Member for ‘Cleaner and Greener’ says “We are delighted to be part of the Bitchet Common renovation and we are excited to see the finished outcome. It is really important that the native species of plants and wildlife are able to thrive again.”

Cllr McArthur adds “This could not be done without the fantastic work of our volunteers, they make all the difference.”

The event will take place at Bitchet Common and parking is available at One Tree Hill Car Park, Carter's Hill, TN15 0SN.

To find out more information please visit www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/bitchet

 

Background

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 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.

Work has already begun on the commons and is set to be completed in August 2020.

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 clare.russell@kentwildlife.org.uk

 

 

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