Henfield Conservation Volunteers

Can you help our Conservation Volunteers?

We live in a beautiful village surrounded by stunning countryside. During the pandemic, walking local footpaths and visiting the many local beauty spots we’re so lucky to have has become a lifeline for many of us. We tend to assume that our three commons, footpaths, ponds and twittens are naturally this way, which is partly true, but not the entire picture. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into looking this stunning! Without the dedication of the Henfield Conservation Volunteers and Henfield Parish Council (who often collaborate) then our footpaths would be overgrown, our common would be blighted by invasive species. 

Henfield Conservation Volunteers has recently formed a collaboration with SH2030 (Sustainable Henfield 2030), their aims are closely aligned so the partnership is a logical one. More volunteers, more enthusiasm and more will to protect and encourage threatened species by improving biodiversity in Henfield; both groups believe that when tackling climate change, the best place to start is on your own doorstep!

Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions have somewhat scuppered HCV’s ability to be as productive they’d like. Although small work parties (just groups of two right now) can perform minor work, the bulk of autumn and winter activity has been stymied. So, very soon it’ll be ‘all hands on deck’ to get the projects underway before mother nature wakes up and spring brings a new flourish of growth!

This is where you can help. There are lots of projects on the horizon which may interest you, where you can get involved and get your hands dirty to help improve the village and our environment.

For example, there’s the sowing of wildflower seeds and planting projects to create bee corridors in the swales along the access roads to Henfield Leisure Centre. Tree planting of native trees near Henfield Medical Centre, these will all need watering if we end up with another dry summer. Plans are afoot to plant a mini forest / copse (for future local children to play in) and to create a fruit tree trail, planting some heritage and unusual English fruit trees to help preserve and diversify species. Aside from these lovely planting and improvement projects, there’s always lots of very satisfying clearance work needed on the commons, Tanyard pond and along footpaths. Clearance is one of the Conservation Volunteers favourite tasks, with immediate and gratifying effects!

In the past, the group have achieved some wonderful results. They’ve cleared non-native invasive species such as cherry laurel (with the great help of the B-P Guild) and Wilson’s honeysuckle on Henfield Common, which opened a beautiful gladed area through the woods where wild flowers are now growing. They’ve cleared saplings to allow the ancient oaks to flourish on the common and removed willow scrub and bramble from the ancient reed-bed. They’ve planted wild flowers and fruit trees on Borrer’s Bank, and new hedging on the northern side of the Rothery Field. On Broadmere Common the very rare Black Poplar trees, planted over 10 years ago, are now well established and looking beautiful. The list goes on!

When you’re out on your walks you’ll see plenty of evidence of the work the Conservation Volunteers, not just the examples above. John Willis explained why joining in, even if just for an hour or two, is a rewarding thing to do. “As we have been unable to meet and work for several months in 2020, as soon as the pandemic dies down, there is a huge backlog of work to

undertake, plus many projects to initiate. Not only will it help your own health but will be for the benefit of the whole community and future generations. If this year has shown us anything, it is that for improved physical and mental health, we need to get outside more and connect with the natural environment…. the ‘Wellbeing’ factor. Whatever your ability, there is satisfaction and enjoyment in what we achieve.”

Here’s a few useful FAQs, to help you decide if the Henfield Conservation Volunteers is for you.

How often do you meet? We meet about once a month on a Sunday morning and work for 2-3 hours. Occasionally we also meet on a Saturday.

Do you provide tools? The Conservation volunteers has most of the tools required. Occasionally we are joined by Parish Council employees who are licenced to use specialist tools.  Sometimes it helps if some volunteers bring along their own tools.

What clothing do you suggest? We suggest old clothes. Strong gardening gloves are a good idea, also boots or wellies. We do have some waders for when we work on ponds. 

Who can join? Any adult from 18 to over 80 whatever your ability, can help. Younger people, accompanied by a supervising adult, are most welcome and encouraged to come along.

If you are interested in helping, please call John Willis on 01273 494822, private message Henfield Conservation Volunteers Facebook page, or email SH2030 on sh2030@mail.com. They’d also be interested in hearing from you if you have any ideas on protecting our natural environment.    

If you would like to support nature conservation in Henfield by making a donation, you can do so by buying tickets in Horsham District Community Lottery: www.horshamdistrictcommunitylottery.co.uk/support/henfield-conservation-volunteers

Pull on your wellies and join in the fun!

Emma Osman