Ashtead Common woodlands are one of just 70 in the entire UK recognized for their special features as part of the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years as our Queen. The main special feature in this case are the huge numbers of ancient pollarded oak; there are over 1,000 living ancient oaks, each at least 400 years old. The area also includes an the site of an Iron Age settlement and remains of a Roman Villa and Tileworks.
The Common has been the responsibility of the City of London Corporation since it acquired it in 1991. It is supported by a local Consultative Group. The Consultative Group includes Ashtead Independent District Councillor David Hawksworth and Ashtead Independent County Councillor Chris Townsend. The Ashtead Resident’s Association is represented by David Baker. There is also a very active group of volunteers that meet regularly to assist its team of professional rangers.
The Consultative Group generally meets twice each year, with one of those being a site visit. At the suggestion of Councillor Hawksworth, the meetings are now open to anyone who wishes to attend, although only the appointed members are able to vote. Others may speak if they so wish subject to approval by the Chairman.
There is a detailed long-term and well-illustrated management plan for the Common covering the period 2021-2031, developed through a length process of public consultation available. This includes yearly work programmes, and an on-going schedule for monitoring its biodiversity – addressing different groups of organisms each year.
In addition to their value for recreation and wildlife, the health of the woods is of major importance locally for its contribution to the amelioration of global warming. An assessment by the Climate Action Strategy estimates that it captures a staggering 60,293 tons of carbon each year (54% by the vegetation and 46% by the soil).