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Countryside sites

Photo of wild flowersThe Medway Council Ranger Team is responsible for other natural sites, scattered throughout Medway, to benefit wildlife and residents. Some of these areas are so important to wildlife that they have been designated as:

Local wildlife sites

Designated by Kent Wildlife Trust for their importance to the conservation of wildlife in Kent and Medway, they may support threatened habitats, such as chalk grassland or ancient woodland, or may be important for the wild plants or animals which are present; and/or

Local nature reserves

Designated by Local Authorities with approval from Natural England, the government body for the natural environment, they are places with wildlife or geological features of special local interest. They offer people opportunities to study or learn about nature or simply to enjoy it.

The countryside sites do not have the visitor facilities the country parks possess but give an excellent introduction to the natural environment and wildlife, acting as important links between the local communities that surround them and the wider countryside.

A summary table for the wider countryside estate indicates that the main habitats are woodland and grassland which have their own habitat management regimes, as shown below.

Habitat management regimes

Coppice woodland

There are around 80 hectares of fragmented woodland in Medway Council ownership (excluding the large woodland areas of Ranscombe Farm) all of which were once part of larger woodland blocks.  

Coppicing is a traditional form of woodland management and can be seen throughout Medway. A coppiced wood is cut periodically and the trees grow again from the cut stumps. This growth can be very fast, as much as 6.56 ft (2m) in a year, producing numerous shoots rather than one main stem. Coppicing provides an environmentally sustainable source of wood, as periodic cutting prolongs the life of the tree. Many of the oldest trees in British woods are coppiced.

Medway’s woodlands contain mainly sweet chestnuts, which were traditionally coppiced in 15 to 25-year cycles. This cycle had ceased because of the loss of demand for traditional wood products. Uncoppiced woods tend to have the same structure of tree throughout, support fewer species and contain trees that will potentially become unhealthy or unsafe.

Medway Council is re-introducing coppicing cycles to many of its woodlands. Regular coppicing benefits flora and fauna by allowing more sunlight to reach the ground. To thrive, woodland wildflowers such as bluebells and wood anemones need the two or three years of the bright sunlight that reaches them when an area is coppiced.

A well-managed coppice wood contains a variety of tree species with different life cycles, structures, heights and ages. This in turn provides suitable habitats for a wide range of nesting birds.

Grassland management

Chalk grassland areas were traditionally managed by grazing as part of agricultural practice. Loss of grazing on sites across Medway over the last 30 years has resulted in nutrient enrichment and encroachment of scrub species with subsequent loss of public access and biodiversity value.

Medway Council has been working with the Kent Wildlife Trust for more than 10 years on the restoration of chalk grassland on Darland Banks. This has seen the removal of scrub and reintroduction of grazing by goats, cattle and ponies.  

Following the success of this scheme the countryside team is now engaged in a project to restore 15 hectares of chalk grassland on the Coney and Daisy Banks in Luton through removal of scrub and establishment of grazing. Scrub cutting works take place annually between October and end of February to ensure nesting birds are not disturbed. Latest Greenspace news contains information on major site works.

For other open grassland areas, management is concerned either with ensuring annual grass growth is cut and removed from the site after seeding in summer with management work taking place between late July and end of September. This removes nutrients from the site which would lead to more rank species out-competing chalk grassland species.

For other open grassland areas, management is concerned either with ensuring annual grass growth is cut and removed from the site after seeding in summer with management work taking place between late July and end of September. This removes nutrients from the site which would lead to more rank species out-competing chalk grassland species.

The table below provides summary information on other countryside sites owned and managed by the Medway Council Countryside Team.

Site name Size
(hectares)
Street access name Key Habitat Local Wildlife Site (LWS) Local Nature Reserve (LNR)

Albemarle Road

2.0

Albemarle Road

Coppice woodland

 

Ambley Wood

11.4

Ambley Road

Coppice woodland

LWS/LNR

Ballen’s Rough

3.2

North Dane Way

Chestnut coppice woodland

 

Baty’s Marsh

4.2

Manor Lane

Grassland and marsh

LWS/LNR

Bishops Hoath Wood

2.9

Roosevelt Avenue

Woodland

 

Brooms Wood

5.4

Deanwood Drive

Coppice Woodland

 

Callams Scrub

0.6

Ploughmans Way

Coppice Woodland

 

Chapel Hill/Blowers Wood

0.9

The Rise

Chestnut coppice woodland

 

Cherry Tree Orchard

1.0

Cherry Tree Road

Old orchard

 

Chestnut Wood

5.8

Chestnut Avenue

Mixed coppice woodland with small grassland area

 

Coney and Daisy Banks

26.7

Barnfield

Chalk grassland

LWS

Craigie Walk

0.7

Craigie Walk / Mierscourt Rd

Woodland

 

Dargets Wood

2.4

Dargets Road

Woodland and grassland

 

Darland Banks

44.5

Darland Avenue

Chalk grassland

LWS/LNR

East Hoath Wood

10.8

Hoath Lane

Coppice woodland

LWS

Foxburrow Wood

6.1

Deanwood Drive

Ancient woodland

LNR

Frog Island Pond

0.2

Upnor Road

Pond

 

Great Lines 

28.7

Marlborough Road

Mixed grassland

LWS

Hall Wood

1.8

Albemarle Road

Chestnut coppice woodland

 

Hook Wood

11.0

North Dane Way

Woodland

LWS

Horsted Farm

28.5

Walderslade Road

Chalk grassland

LWS

Levan Strice

2.8

Maidstone Road

Coppice woodland

LNR

Lords Wood

2.7

Lords Wood Lane

Coppice woodland

  

Mill Hill Wood

2.6

Bush Road

Woodland adjacent to Cobham Woods SSSI

LWS

Moor Park Close

0.6

Moor Park Close

Woodland

 

Ploughmans Meadow

0.3

Ploughmans Way

Woodland bank

 

Polhill Drive

0.5

Polhill Drive

Woodland

 

Princes Park

14.0

Princes Avenue

Chalk Grassland

 

Prince Arthur Park

0.5

Prince Arthur Road

Woodland

 

Rede Common

11.2

Thurston Drive

Acid grassland with areas of scrub

 

Silverspot Wood

0.3

Mierscourt Road

Small coppice woodland

 

Sindal Shaw

2.8

Clandon Road

Chestnut coppice woodland

 

South Wood 

6.7

Lamplighters Close/Cobblestones

Ancient coppice woodland with grassland meadow area

LWS/LNR

The Scrubs

1.4

Hempstead Road

Woodland

LWS

Watts Meadow

3.0

Borstal Road/Ethelbert Road

Grassland blocks with scrub

 

Whimbrel Walk

0.4

Sultan Road

Woodland

 

Whitegate Wood

2.8

Hempstead Valley Drive

Woodland

 

Feedback

If you come across something that you would like to report to the council or would like to book a facility, please use the contact details below or complete one of these online forms:

Country parks

 

Countryside

 

What's on outdoors

Visit Medway to find out what's going on outdoors.

 

For more information contact us by telephone: 01634 338191 / fax: 01634 811438 or by email: info@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Capstone Farm Country Park, Capstone Road, Gillingham, Kent ME7 3JG