Restoration of Honeymoor Common

Honeymoor Common is currently largely abandoned agriculturally because of the problems of stock getting on the roads, and is crossed by ditches. Although it would benefit greatly from grazing, it is a wonderful scrub and wet grassland wildlife habitat.

The Common has several ponds dotted about, mostly overgrown, but there are two bigger ponds. The project wanted to deal with one close to the road, which when surveyed in 2005 had a record of the very invasive non-native species Crassula helmsii (New Zealand pigmy weed or Australian swamp stonecrop). When re-surveyed in 2007 the Crassula had spread across the pond and was forming a dense mat under the bulrush (Typha) and other rushes and sedges. A very small number of great crested newt tadpoles were found, though many more smooth newt.

The management plan aimed to deal with the Crassula by digging out the pond completely, disposing of the waste offsite and spraying any re-growth of the Crassula. Environment Agency waste disposal regulations expect pond dredgings to be spread round the banks, but this would not have been appropriate in this situation because of the high risk of re-infestation of the Crassula in the pond, or further infestation to other water-bodies on the common. The diggings would need to be disposed off-site.

Unfortunately, quotes for disposal of the diggings off-site were in the region of £20,000 and were beyond the scope of the project and it was decided instead to do some work on a nearby pond.

The survey of the alternative pond discovered great crested newts and also a rare (Red Data Book) beetle and this informed the new management plan. It was decided that some shallow scrapes would be dug in the marshy area next to the pond for the benefit of invertebrates, some areas of bulrush (Typha) dug out of the big pond to create open water while leaving some of the habitat to re-colonise other areas. Clumps of trees surrounding the pond would be cut down and made into habitat piles while leaving boundary trees standing.

Work took place in November, with one contractor doing the tree work and another doing the digging of the scrapes and areas of the big pond. Two volunteer mornings were spent building the habitat piles with logs and brash, and clearing paths round the pond.

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