To receive a report on the Rowhill Nature Reserve Habitat Management Plan 2020 to 2030 from Mr. Tim Mills, Head of Economy, Planning and Strategic Housing (copy attached).
Tim Mills, Head of Economy, Planning and Strategic Housing, gave a presentation on the Rowhill Nature Reserve Habitat Management Plan 2020-2030.
It was noted that, over the previous year, the Management Plan had been developed and refreshed, in conjunction with the Rowhill Nature Reserve Society (RNRS) and other partners, to cover the Reserve’s management over the following ten years. The ten-year Plan would be supported by an annual work plan.
A number of surveys had been undertaken during 2019/20 to establish what was present on the site which was made up of coppiced woodland, the Blackwater River, ditches, ponds and a bog, and meadow, scrub and heathland. The Surveys had also identified a number of species present on the site, including:
· Bats (5 species)
· Birds (24 species)
· Reptiles, a small population due to make up of the site
· Amphibians, not varied at present but will be encourage more through habitat management
· Invertebrates – not varied at present but a rare species of spider, the Pirate Spider, had been found
· Flora/Woodland – a rich variety was present due to the varied terrain of the site
Members were informed on the vision for the Reserve, as follows:
“The vision for Rowhill Nature Reserve is to create a sanctuary for wildlife, allowing free open access for people to experience wildlife in a well-managed setting and to fulfil its function as a SANG.”
To support the vision there were a number of objectives, in particular:
· Maintaining and enhancing the woodland/heathland/grassland
· Managing the bog and enhancing the ditch and pond areas
· Monitoring the species present and any effects caused by the Management Plan
· Complying with health and safety requirements and other statutes
· Management of paths and signage, including disable access
· Management of non-native species, such as Rhododendron, Cherry Laurel and Variegated Yellow Arch Angel
The Board discussed the Plan and raised a number issues around boundaries, fly-tipping, the path network and signage. In response, it was noted that even though the Reserve lay within both Rushmoor and Waverley the site was owned and, therefore, the responsibility of Rushmoor. The site was designated a Site of Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) and Rushmoor benefitted from the housing that was developed and the subsequent funding which helped to maintain the site because of this. With regard to fly-tipping, it was noted that education was the best way of dealing with the issue, Rowhill visited schools and community groups and addressed fly-tipping issues and the Council supported this work on a wider scale. It was noted that incidents of other antisocial behaviour were few on the site and were dealt with individually.
The path network and signage improvements were welcomed but it was felt important to ensure disabled access was available without compromising the natural terrain of the site. The signage could be more informative and give a positive message regarding looking after the site
A discussion was also held on the data held on visitors to the Reserve, it was proposed that counters would be installed around the site to measure the number of people visiting and the RNRS collated data which was reported in their quarterly reports.
The Chairman thanked Mr. Mills and his team for the work put in to produce the Plan and asked Members to ensure that any further comments should be provided in writing to Mr. Mills within the following week for consideration before the Plan was formally approved.