Over many years the once extensive area of low land heathland of Chailey Common has been gradually taken over by invading species of plants and trees. To control the invading species of Bracken, Gorse and Silver Birch has become a major undertaking through the means of practical management. This method of trying to preserve the heathland is both costly and time consuming, involving volunteer groups and dedication.
The Commons have an extensive history, in both world wars they were used as training grounds for military exercises including tank manoeuvres; this created some unique landscape features that have since become unique micro-habitats for a wide range of flora and fauna.
Historically the land was also used by commoners for grazing livestock, during these times the land was all but clear of the invading plant species. It is for this reason that it was decided that grazing should be reintroduced to all of the commons, funding by Natural England through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and the Environmental Stewardship Scheme has made fencing the perimeters possible.
Before the installation of any of the fencing Twig had extensive clearance to carry out, it was vital that this was carried out outside of the bird nesting season and with all other species being taken into account. Any trees that had to be felled were cut into logs for anyone with commoners rights to gather as fuel for there homes and many of the branches were stacked into piles to create suitable habitats.
Once the lines were clear the task of installing over 6km of fencing, 48 gates and 5 cattle grids was undertaken. Each gate and grid was vital to allow continued access to the commons by the public and yet keep all livestock within the perimeters. The variety of access points allowed for horse riders and walkers to continue to enjoy there commons, as well as vehicular access for residents and the rangers who play a vital role in maintaining the land. The installation of each access point had an exact specification to keep the land open to all and safe for when the public were leaving the safety of the common and accessing the highway, either by foot, horseback or car.
With the successful completion of phase one of the project at the beginning of the year, the project was completed with the clearance and installation of the remaining 6km of fencing, 50 gates and the 7 cattle grids.