The Ghyll is a 42 acre Local Nature Reserve composed mainly of Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW) that encompasses a steep-sided wooded valley carved out by a stream flowing from the north at Silver Jubilee Recreation Ground, down to Jarvis Brook Recreation Ground in the south. Lime Kiln Playing Fields are located to the east of The site.
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Parts of the site are more open and resemble the lowland heathland of nearby Ashdown Forest with its sunny banks of gorse and ling. Ghyll woodlands are important for biodiversity in Sussex because the steep-sided valleys create an almost unique microclimate with high humidity and a low frost incidence. Rare flora including ferns, mosses and liverworts can be found in these conditions.
History of the site
The site was unmanaged up until 2009 when Crowborough Town Council’s Ranger Emma Newman began work. After piecing together Crowborough Town Councils ownership boundaries from numerous dusty deeds and title plans an ecological survey and Site Management Plan were commissioned.
As with the Country Park, Crowborough Town Council’s intention is to develop the site for public amenity and to enhance biodiversity. This led to the Council’s decision to declare the site a Local Nature Reserve guaranteeing its future management according to the management plan.
From 2009 practical work began on the Invasive Japanese Knotweed and litter problems working in conjunction with the supporter’s group Crowborough Conservation.
By 2010, a whole host of conservation volunteering events were held; felling trees, removing old fences and tidying up the site. The informal path alongside the stream was cleared of fallen trees and a car park was constructed over old concrete garage bases at the Burdett Road entrance.
A dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius survey using nest tubes was conducted confirming the presence of this threatened species on the site as they had been found at other nearby sites such as Pelling’s Wood. Crowborough Conservation’s £10,000 Lottery funded “Threatened Species Project” supported the continuation of the survey with the installation of dormouse nest boxes in 2011.
The whole site was dedicated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW 2000) in 2011 giving the public the right to walk over the site in perpetuity. The Act also brought legal restrictions on the use of the site helping to ease problems that had been encountered such as off-road motor biking.
Threats to the site
The most obvious threat to the site is loss of connectivity with other habitats. Adjacent land is being developed removing the habitat linkages that enable populations of wildlife such as dormice to survive in the long term.
Whilst opening up the site for use by the public, this does present the threat of increased disturbance to the site’s wildlife. It is planned that by making the main paths more clearly defined people will generally leave the more sensitive areas of the site undisturbed. We respectfully ask people to keep their dogs under close control, especially during the bird nesting season.