"To protect and conserve"

Questions & Answers

Q. When and where was HCS formed?
A. HCS was formed in Camberley, Surrey in 1995 as AGODC as a result of the public consultancy that was conducted at this time.

Q. Who formed HCS?
A. HCS was formed by two concerned residents who still live locally today.

Q. Why was HCS formed?
A. HCS was formed because the local Heathland was being destroyed by 3rd party damage caused by off road activities such as motorbike scrambling and other anti social behaviour. The situation was further worsened by there being no effective land management plan in place.

Q. What is the HCS SPA Protection Group Partnership?
A. The Partnership is made up of various governmental bodies and agencies also major national land owners and others. Its remit includes addressing the problems of antisocial behaviour in its various forms in the countryside and to enforce legislation.

Q. What is Heathland?
A. Heathland is a well-known habitat type which occurs on acidic, impoverished, dry sandy or wet peaty soils, and is characterised by the presence of a range of dwarf-shrubs. These include various types of heather, gorse and grasses. Mainly devoid of trees Heathland has high intrinsic appeal and provides a special sense of remoteness and wilderness.

Q. Who do HCS work with?
A. HCS works with volunteers and liaises closely with various governmental bodies and agencies. The HCS Conservation Section currently employees volunteers to carry out practical conservation work alongside The Surrey Wildlife Trust in the case of the Barossa and Poors Allotments heath in Camberley which forms part of the Broadmoor to Bagshot Woods and Heath SSSI/SPA.

Q. Why is preserving Heathland habitat so important?
A. Heathland habitat is home to numerous highly specialised plants and animals. It is particularly important for reptiles and certain birds. With over 80% of your former Heathland lost we clearly have an obligation to conserve this rare and important habitat, not just for wildlife but for future generations of people to enjoy.

Q. What species of reptiles and birds live on Heathland?
A. Dartford Warblers, Wood Larks and Nightjars are Heathland bird specialists. Reptiles such as Adders, Smooth snakes, Grass snakes, lizards and slow worms can be found on the heath. All are protected in law and should not be disturbed.

Q. Why are the pine trees being cut and burnt?
A. The invasive Scots Pine need to be controlled to ensure it remains a perfect habitat for rare reptiles, insects and plants that have adapted to live on Heathland habitat. Dropped pine needles create a carpet through which plants have difficulty growing through. This coupled with the shading effect of the canopy above means direct intervention is necessary.

Q. There are cows on the heath! Why?
A. You may indeed encounter cattle on heaths. By grazing them and allowing them to eat scrub and Purple Moor Grass etc it increases the opportunity for more delicate, slower growing plants to become established and grow.

Q. Why do I need to keep to the footpaths?
A. It is vital to adhere to the footpaths because of the danger of nests belonging to ground nesting birds being disturbed or worse destroyed. To reduce the risk please remain on footpaths and do not wonder onto the Heather.

Q. Why is it particularly important for me to keep my dog under strict control during the spring and summer months?
A. Your dog should be kept on a lead during the ground bird nesting season. See above answer for the reason why!

Q. Do I have any rights to access to the Thames Basin Heath SPA and other SSSI/SPA's?
A. This is a good question that is difficult to give a straight answer to, in fact it is a question you should ask yourself and be sure of the answer before entering any areas of the countryside.

Apart from using the few public footpaths that cross the area you have no right of access, only permitted access to several areas of SSSI/SPA's. As a guide the following Broadmoor to Bagshot SPA land owners : The Defence Estates, Crown Estates and Forestry Commission land have only permitted access while the Windlesham United Charities and Poors Allotments (now leased to Surrey Wildlife Trust) has CRoW mapping allowing the right to roam providing you keep to the paths and observe the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) and other relevant legislations.

Q. What about the Old Dean Common, it is common land right?
A. Wrong, although it may be known as Old Dean Common there is in fact no common land there whatsoever, it is all owned and thus must be respected otherwise access could be denied for all!

Q. Are HCS officers paid?
A. No, all our officers donate their time and energies for free.

Q. How does my donation help HCS and the work you do?
A. HCS receives no formal or official funding. Public donations are essential to help us continue our work on the heath. Your donation helps fund the purchase of tools and personal protective equipment (PPE), pay for such things as printing, postage, insurance and the hosting of our website etc. If you would like to make a donation please click on the donate button on our home page.

Q. Can I volunteer my time?
A. Of course! HCS is always looking for new volunteers. Please click here to request further information.

Q. Is HCS just a local group?
A. Whilst much effort has been concentrated “protecting and conserving” the Broadmoor to Bagshot Woods and Heath we have a direct or indirect involvement with the thirteen sites making up the Thames Basin Heath SPA in Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, we are also interested in Heathland both nationally and internationally and seek solutions to problems that affect Heathland everywhere!

Got a question that needs answering and would benefit from appearing here?

Let us know!