Surrey Wildlife Trust: The Big Give

Round & About

Surrey Wildlife Trust

All donations to the Trust’s campaign to support conservation grazing will be matched by The Big Give from 28th November to 5th December   

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s fundraising appeal to help its team of four-footed conservation heroes preserve and protect precious habitats has received a big boost as match funding platform The Big Give has promised to match any donations received from members of the public – effectively doubling the impact your money can have on local wildlife.

All donations made between 28th November and 5th December will be matched by The Big Give as part of its Christmas Challenge, and the campaign has received backing of £9,800 thanks to Kia UK and a further £5,000 from The Reed Foundation.


SWT is urgently asking for donations to help maintain and extend conservation grazing using herds of Belted Galloway cows and specially-bred cross breed sheep in the county. This is an effective way to keep chalk grasslands and heathlands buzzing with life as the climate and nature crisis bites, and supports a huge number of species including Nightjars, Dartford Warblers, Silver-studded Blue butterflies, Sand Lizards and a multitude of pollinating bees and beetles as well as plant life including orchid species and Cut-leaved Germander. 

But the Trust is being hit by increasing costs for overwintering, feed and veterinary care. Additional funding is urgently needed to recruit more volunteers to help look after the herd.

SWT also wants to increase the use of  ‘no fence’ grazing, which uses specialized GPS collars, controlled using an app. This makes costly fencing unnecessary and enables herds to be moved to new grazing territory safely, quickly and easily.

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s farm and livestock manager James Stoyles says: “Our unique landscapes bring huge benefits to thousands of visitors and residents, but they need sensitive management to stay in good shape for people and nature. Our conservation grazers are the best possible team for the job – but they need help to keep carrying out their vital mission.

“Thanks to the wonderful generosity of our supporters, we’re already 30 per cent of the way towards meeting out overall fundraising target of £50,000. It’s great that The Big Give has offered us this opportunity, but to get over the line we’ll need help from everyone who can afford to make a donation, however small.  Every penny we raise will contribute to a healthier, more biodiverse and more beautiful Surrey.”

The fundraising campaign has four main aims:    

Expanding ‘no fence’ grazing in Surrey. Equipping more conservation grazing cattle with GPS collars will reduce the need for physical fences (thus reducing the costs of installation and maintenance) and allow more targeted grazing.

Increasing awareness of conservation grazing and engage with local communities to ensure that people, dogs and grazing animals can safely enjoy local reserves. 

Increasing the Trust’s conservation grazing team capacity by recruiting and training more volunteer ‘lookerers’. To ensure the day-to-day welfare of the grazing herds, SWT aims to have 15-20 weekend volunteer lookerers.


Breeding a flock of cross-breed sheep (combining traditional Wiltshire Horn and Boreray breeds) with wool-shedding qualities, resulting in improved welfare and low cost. These animals could be a vital resource for land managers and conservationists across the county and beyond.  

If you are able to support the appeal, please donate through to maximise your impact. 

Conservationist cows to arrive in Camberley

Karen Neville

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Give them a quiet welcome, says Surrey Wildlife Trust

Starting this month, public access areas of Barossa nature reserve in Camberley will play host to a special band of black-and-white visitors – a 36-strong herd of native Belted Galloway cattle owned by Surrey Wildlife Trust.

During the spring and summer months, the steers play a vital role in keeping the site in good condition for nature by keeping vegetation including Molina grass under control, thus creating ideal habitat for species such as Nightjars, Dartford Warblers, Silver-studded Blue butterflies and a range of reptiles including Common Lizards and Adders.

With the animals set to arrive on 06 April, the Trust is reminding people not to be intimidated by the cows, but to treat them with respect. Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Grazing Manager Tamsin Harris says: “As well as being a popular spot for walkers Barossa is an important site for Surrey’s wonderful wildlife, and our cattle are helping keep the area special – but it’s important to remember that they are there to do a job, not to make friends. They are bred for a placid temperament but please don’t feed or pet them, remember to give them some space when walking past them and keep dogs under control.

“We hugely appreciate the support of local people in helping our herd stay happy.”

Conservation grazing is widely used by Surrey Wildlife Trust to manage wildlife habitat, whether it be grassland, woodland, wetland or scrub. It is less intrusive to wildlife than burning or cutting excess vegetation, and grazing animals can access areas which people and machinery can’t.

Many of the rare flora and fauna that exist within Surrey now relies on this type of management to survive, and Surrey has used cattle, goats, sheep and native Red Deer for these purposes on sites including Chobham Common, Quarry Hangers, Ash Ranges and Pirbright Ranges. Belted Galloway cattle originate from the lowlands of Scotland and are particularly suitable for grazing both heathland and chalk grassland thanks to their hearty appetites for course grasses and scrub as well as softer vegetation. Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Belted Galloway cattle are moved across multiple sites according to the season and the needs of each site. The 36 steers arriving at Barossa this month will remain on site until early November.

Bring your lawn to life

Karen Neville

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Surrey Wildlife Trust and RHS call on gardeners to give the mower a rest and bring their lawns to life for nature

Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are calling on gardeners to ditch the ‘golf course’ look and reimagine their lawns this spring and summer.

The ‘Bring your lawn to life‘ initiative encourages people to cut their grass less regularly and embrace daisies, dandelions, clovers and other naturally flowering plants. Leaving more space for native vegetation means the pollinating insects we all depend on, as well as a huge range of other wildlife from frogs to finches, has a much better chance of survival.

Lawns left to grow long help mitigate flooding by soaking up more rainwater, counter the ‘heat island’ effect in urban areas, and capture pollutants. They are also better at resisting browning during dry spells owing to their longer roots.

Their benefits continue into the height of summer, providing all-important habitat for a whole host of insects including ants, bees, beetles and butterflies.

The charities have set out five ways to love your lawn this year:

• Reduce the frequency of mowing to once every three to four weeks to allow flowers such as dandelion and speedwell to bloom and help pollinators.
• Keep some areas short as pathways, sunbathing spots, and foraging areas for worm-eating birds. For the rest, let the grass grow a little longer, offering shelter to grasshoppers and other insects. In turn, these creatures are food for frogs, birds and bats.
• Allow parts of your lawn to grow long for the whole summer so that caterpillars can feed and transform into butterflies and moths.
• Turn a blind eye to the odd bare patch as these provide sites for ground nesting bees.
• If you do want a luscious green carpet, consider growing hardy yarrow within your lawn or, where this is limited footfall, experiment with a tapestry lawn and grow herbs and flowers such as chamomile and creeping thyme.

Given that most lawn-dwelling plants are annuals, there is plenty of scope to experiment with different layouts and mowing patterns each year, giving gardeners numerous outlets for their creativity.

Lucy Cahill, Team Wilder Project Officer at Surrey Wildlife Trust says: “Private gardens cover more of the UK than all our nature reserves combined, so just imagine the difference we could make if every one of them became a sanctuary for wildlife. And with so much colour and contrast on offer, a lawn that makes space for nature can look as beautiful as the most formal display.

“We all depend on the services nature provides, so we all have something to gain by helping make Surrey wilder.”

Helen Bostock, Senior Wildlife Specialist at the RHS, says: “Lawns, while central to many garden designs, are often overlooked as important ecosystems in favour of the plants in beds that border them. But they’re home to a huge amount of wildlife and help mitigate the impact of climate change.

“We want to inspire people to get up close and personal with their lawns this year, discover what can be found in their swathes of green and dabble with new, more hands-off means of management.”

For more user-friendly information on how your lawn can help wildlife, visit Wild about lawns.

Surrey Wildlife Trust is currently asking for donations to create and protect hedgerow and woodland habitat for the threatened Hazel Dormouse – part of a vision for Surrey as a county where people and nature can thrive together. For more information or to make a donation visit Surrey Wildlife Trust.

Can you help save the Dormouse?

Karen Neville

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Image: Danny Green

Surrey Wildlife Trust launches fundraising drive to save the adorable Dormouse

One of Surrey’s most-loved but rarely-seen residents – the Hazel Dormouse – is the focus of a major new conservation and habitat creation campaign led by Surrey Wildlife Trust.

The fundraising effort is part of a wider push to halt and reverse the decline of nature in our county. The campaign aims to raise £25,000 to enable the Trust to improve and protect the hedgerows and woodlands that Dormice and many other species rely on. This will create healthy and connected corridors of habitat across the county, enabling Dormice to shelter, breed, feed and sleep safely.

These nocturnal and once-common rodents, characterised by large black eyes, golden-brown fur and long black whiskers, have been present in Surrey since at least the Ice Age but have suffered big population declines due to the destruction and fragmentation of their woodland and hedgerow homes. Dormice numbers have fallen by 75% in Surrey over the last 25 years alone, with research suggesting they are now in chronic decline nationally and should be reclassified as endangered.

These nocturnal and once-common rodents, characterised by large black eyes, golden-brown fur and long black whiskers, have been present in Surrey since at least the Ice Age but have suffered big population declines due to the destruction and fragmentation of their woodland and hedgerow homes. Dormice numbers have fallen by 75% in Surrey over the last 25 years alone, with research suggesting they are now in chronic decline nationally and should be reclassified as endangered.

Image: Ian Pratt

Weighing a maximum of 30 grams and living for up to five years, Dormice are the only small British mammal with a furry prehensile tail, which they use to wrap around their body during lengthy winter hibernations as well as to assist with climbing. As their name suggests, they spend up to seven months of the year asleep in tightly-woven, low-level leafy nests approximately the size of a tennis ball.

Rarely seen on the ground when awake, these agile climbers favour the branches of native trees such as hazel, hawthorn and oak, where they live in small family groups and feed on flowers, pollen, fruits, insects and nuts. They need a healthy and diverse ecosystem to survive and have been chosen as the focus of SWT’s new appeal because protecting Dormice and their homes will have positive effects on a myriad of species from Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies to other mammals including Hedgehogs to birds like Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings.

Surrey Wildlife Trust CEO Jane Chimbwandira says: “It’s easy to love Dormice, but their decline isn’t just a tragedy for people who care about cuteness – it is symptomatic of the decline of the wild places that we all depend on. The hedgerows and woodlands that Dormice need to survive and thrive also support hundreds of other species, help to protect us from flooding and soil erosion, block out traffic noise, keep the air clean and store thousands of tons of CO2.

“By supporting our campaign to save Dormice, you can help secure the future of Surrey as a great place to live not just for wildlife but for people too.”

Katy Fielding, project manager of Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Hedgerow Heritage programme says: “Hedgerows are the forgotten heroes of Surrey’s landscape. With a properly-managed hedgerow supporting up to a dozen types of native tree, not to mention a huge variety of plant life at the margins and base, they are superhighways of biodiversity, offering shelter and safe passage to countless species.

“With something in fruit or in flower all year round, mature hedgerows also offer a permanently-stocked buffet for bees, bats, birds and butterflies as well as Dormice and other mammals. But with many in poor condition due to the decline of traditional management skills, our hedgerows are in urgent need of help.

“Even if you can only give a little, there’s no better way to assist nature’s recovery than by backing our campaign to install and restore miles of these priceless habitats across the county.”

Surrey Wildlife Trust has a positive vision for nature in Surrey. By working with landowners, local people and public bodies to create connected corridors of habitat – including wildflower meadows, hedgerows, and woodlands – right across the county, it believes that wildlife can not just be protected, but also become more abundant, enriching the lives of people from all our communities.

Where they live

Shy and nocturnal, Dormice are elusive during daylight hours. They are present across Surrey, but recent records suggest they are largely confined to small pockets of habitat, with only a few known strongholds.

Discarded hazelnuts with a neat round hold nibbled in their shells are the best giveaway to their presence in local woodland and hedgerows.

What your money could do

£10 – plants a new hazel with the guards needed to allow it to flourish into a future nesting place.

£30 – delivers one metre of maintenance or restoration work (such as hedgelaying) on an existing hedgerow, which is vital for the long-term survival of hedgerows.

£50 – funds coppicing work in woodland habitats to create ‘natural nesting places’ for Dormice.

£2,000 – enables SWT to manage coppice rotation of 1 hectare of woodland reserve over four years.

Appeal to save wildlife from fire

Liz Nicholls

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Surrey Wildlife Trust is urgently asking for donations to help one of our most precious heathland habitats, and about 200 red deer that help maintain it, recover from a devastating wildfire.

In July, a wildfire broke out on Pirbright Ranges, one of the largest areas of lowland heath in Surrey and home to many rare and threatened species. Patches of ground continue to burn for three weeks and over 650 hectares of pristine heathland has now been severely burnt, at great cost to wildlife.

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s herd of red deer carry out a vital role by grazing the heathland to prevent scrub including Scots pine, common gorse and silver birch from taking over the site. This allows slower-growing dwarf scrub and specialist heathland plant species to flourish, creating the foundation of the unique and threatened heathland ecosystem. Following the fire, hundreds of meters of fencing and heavy-duty sleepers that keep the deer safely on site now needs to be replaced – and the ongoing welfare of the herd will depend on regular vet checks and inspections by SWT staff. Supplementary food in the form of haylage will also be made available to the deer to ensure they have enough food to maintain good condition heading into winter.

The immediate impact of the fire also includes the potential loss of hundreds of recently fledged rare ground-nesting birds including European nightjars, Dartford warblers and woodlark which may have been too young to fly away from the fire. The damage to the site will also have prevented their parents from nesting a second time this year and will change the availability of suitable nesting sites for years to come. Reptiles such as slow worms, grass snakes and adders have been unable to escape the fire, perishing alongside the many invertebrate species, including endangered heath tiger beetles that inhabit the remaining heathland fragments in the southeast of England.


Wildfires have put Surrey on the front line of the climate and nature emergency

Rising temperatures and a lack of rainfall has led to increasingly large, uncontrollable blazes that destroy large areas of heathland. The Pirbright Ranges Fire has potentially burned deep into the ground, affecting plant species including round-leaved sundew, marsh clubmoss and bell heather over hundreds of hectares.

About 85% of heathland in the UK has been lost over the past 150 years through agriculture, development and changes in land management. Surrey Wildlife Trust manages several areas of heathland, including Chobham Common National Nature Reserve and Wisley and Ockham commons that are particularly susceptible to fire in dry conditions. Strain on resources in the years ahead are set to be severe for all who manage and protect these diverse and sensitive habitats.  Dealing with the impact of the Pirbright Ranges fire is expected to account for more than 30 additional days of SWT staff time this year alone.

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s director of reserves management, James Herd, says:

“Wildfires have put Surrey on the front line of the climate and nature emergency – and we urgently need extra support to meet the challenge.  Whilst the heathland will regenerate over time, it is likely to be eight to twelve years before it returns to full health.  The deer will perform a unique and irreplaceable role in ensuring the lowland habitats recover during this time.  All donations we receive will go directly to ensuring their welfare and the continuing safety of Surrey’s heathlands and their unique plants and animals.

“With the help of local people, we will do all we can to explore what more can be done to protect our natural heritage as weather patterns change.  It’s vitally important that people in Surrey can continue to reap the benefits of diverse and healthy ecosystems.”

Pirbright Ranges is owned by the Ministry of Defence.  For safety reasons, it is not accessible to the public.  The herd of red deer that grazes the site is owned and managed by Surrey Wildlife Trust.

David Nolan, Area Commander for Surrey Fire and Rescue Service said:

“Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is urging people to be wildfire aware. We have seen an increase in the number of wildfires we are attending recently and are asking residents to help keep Surrey safe. Please pack a picnic instead of a BBQ, and don’t have campfires or bonfires when the weather is dry! Ensure you dispose of cigarettes and litter correctly.”

Find out more

For more information about how to support the appeal please visit

Half term fun for families

Liz Nicholls

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Half term fun for families & children with Surrey Wildlife Trust

Half term is here: Hurray! We know it’s been tough times for parents this winter & that (whisper it) you might not exactly be jumping for joy at the prospect of filling extra time with your children.

But Surrey Wildlife Trust have some great resources to help you spot & encourage wildlife in your own garden or outdoor space, as well as activities you can enjoy online or in one of the 70 Surrey wildlife reserves the charity manages.

England’s most wooded county, Surrey is impressively diverse and possibly the richest of all land-locked counties in terms of numbers of recorded species.

This includes a stunning mixture of landscapes to explore in Surrey, from the beautiful chalk meadows and rolling hills of the North Downs, to the vast heathlands of the Thames Basin and sprawling wetlands in the east of the county.

Visit & keep your eye on our social media feed to find out about courses & how you can identify nationally scarce mammals, birds, insects and reptiles that share this gorgeous county with us.

Another half term idea is building a family time capsule with the kids, read our tips here

Big Wild Weekend

Round & About

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Celebrate the summer solstice and Big Wild Weekend by getting closer to nature with the Wildlife Trusts from today (19th) to Sunday (21st).

As part of Surrey Wildlife Trust’s 30 Days Wild campaign, you can enjoy an evening of music hosted by Radio 1 DJ Cel Spellman and special guests, have your very own summer sleep-out under the stars and join the Big Wild Quiz.

The weekend will be kicked off with actor & Radio 1 DJ Cel Spellman, and special guests including KT Tunstall, Sophie Ellis-Bextor. More special guests stars to be announced on The Wildlife Trust’s Youtube channel.

On Saturday 20th people can take part by setting up a tent or hammock in the back garden or building a den in the living room. Try your hand at making moth traps, do some night-time wildlife watching and sleep under the stars on this special night, celebrating Surrey’s natural world and the longest day of the year. There will be prizes from Cotswold Outdoor, Learning Resources UK and Jordans Cereals for the best dens and camps.

The Big Wild Quiz on Sunday 21st will be hosted live by The Wildlife Trusts ambassador Sophie Pavelle and actor and podcast ‘Trees a Crowd’ host David Oakes on its Facebook page, with special appearances from the likes of Liz Bonnin. So get ready for four rounds of fun questions on nature, movies/books/TV, music and nature photos.

Jo Foat, communications officer at Surrey Wildlife Trust, said it offers something different for the weekend: “Every year for 30 Days Wild, we hold a Big Wild Weekend with hands on events and open days. We’ve adapted it this year so that everyone can still join in from home in whatever way they can. With music, events and activities to enjoy online, families can get involved and even enjoy a wild sleep out in a tent outside or an indoor den. So get back to nature, sleep under the stars, listen to the wildlife around you and wake up to a magnificent dawn chorus.”

Take part

To join in with the Big Wild Weekend see website and on social media.

Go wild in Guildford

Round & About

Surrey Wildlife Trust

Watch out for the giant badger on 1st and 2nd June and take on the 30 Days Wild challenge

Could you go wild for 30 days in June? That’s the challenge being issued by Countryfile’s Matt Baker.

The UK’s biggest nature challenge, 30 Days Wild, is encouraging people to do something wild every day of the month and get closer to nature.

Matt was inspired by the work of Surrey Wildlife Trust when filming in the county in April and is urging Surrey residents to join in in their thousands.

The challenge is proven to make people healthier, happier and more likely to do something to help the wildlife in their gardens and enjoy nature on their doorstep.

And the choice is yours when it comes to what you do to ‘go wild’ – you could just lie in the grass and gaze up at the clouds, spend some time by the river, admire the dragonflies, create a bucket pond at home or listen to birdsong instead of putting your headphones in on the way to school or work.

The Trust has plenty of ideas on its website and there’s an app which will generate daily ideas.

If you’re in Guildford on Saturday 1st and Sunday, 2nd June don’t be surprised to see a giant badger in High Street – he’ll be celebrating as part of a weekend of activities to mark the wildlife trust’s 60th anniversary. Be inspired by the large pop-up wildlife garden and gardening experts. Get up close to wildlife, take part in fun wildlife themed activities, face painting and trails and much more. There’s also free entry to the Wild Surrey Art and Photography Exhibition at Guildford House Gallery which runs until 16th June.

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Magowan said: “30 Wild Days is the perfect excuse to just get out there every day and enjoy nature where we live.

“Surrey’s countryside is incredible and it’s just too easy to get stuck in the hamster wheel of life and miss the beauty of the natural world.

“Whether you decide to watch the sun go down, listen to a dawn chorus, take a meeting outside, feed the birds or take a video of a minibeast, we want everyone to get closer to nature. It is only by experiencing nature that we recognise its value and realise how important it is to protect it.”

There are a wide range of events, walks and talks taking place as part of SWT’s diamond anniversary, to find out how to get involved and inspiration for ideas visit Surrey Wildlife Trust