As we are preparing next year's competition, we are also reflecting on the 2021 competition and talking to the judges about the category winners.
Clandon Wood Nature Reserve and Natural Burial Ground won the Nature Conservation category and here's what our judge said:
Although the weather was unsettled the judges remained dry and enjoyed visiting the varied sites and meeting the enthusiastic and committed champions of these valuable habitats.
Over this last year of COVID restrictions these spaces have been places of sanctuary for local neighbours as well as the wild life!
Clandon Wood Nature Reserve and Natural Burial Ground takes first place in our rankings against some challenging criteria.
Coming to the end of a 10 year Development Management Plan the site has fulfilled its two obvious remits to provide Natural Burials and create a Nature Reserve. This area has matured into a ecologically rich environment reflecting the chalk down lands that would have been a common feature of the North Downs surrounding Guildford but which are being increasingly lost.
Visiting in July 2021 the judges not only surveyed the perennial meadows with a great variety of species but also the annual poppies that mark recently disturbed soil. Management of the site uses grazing cattle, horse drawn carts and electric golf buggies.
Skylark birdsong and butterflies were just two highlights but whiteboards in the reception area record recent sightings of fauna so visitors can look out for them. Regular monitoring of flora and fauna illustrate the evolving ecology. The stewards interact with other organisations to share knowledge and best practice.
They have a “soft” approach to education attracting visitors by holding social and cultural events and talks about natural history.
Clandon Wood Nature Reserve also has a long term plan that ensures it will remain a special place for Nature Conservation for years to come.