Restoring rare Surrey heathland habitat


07 Sep 2023

As part of our M25 junction 10 upgrade, our heathland restoration scheme will benefit plants and wildlife.

Restoring rare Surrey heathland habitat

This week, we've started restoring up to 25 hectares of heathland at Wisley and Ockham, Surrey. That's equivalent to 47 full sized football pitches.

The work is part of our M25 junction 10 upgrade. The M25 at this location is surrounded by ancient heathland, one of the UK's most threatened natural environments. Across the region, almost 85% of heathland has been lost in the last 200 years.

Our work will allow plants like heather, gorse, wood sage, perforate St John’s-wort and wavy hairgrass to grow again. In turn, this will support wildlife that needs lowland heathland to survive.

Reviving this threatened habitat starts with removing trees.  This might seem strange as part of an environmental enhancement - but it's necessary. In the early 20th Century, vast areas of heathland were lost to timber production. At the time, most people didn't see the value in keeping them as natural habitats.

Woodland around junction 10 is dominated by Scots pine. Some areas are unmanaged and overcrowded, leading to poor ecological conditions.

Opening up the woodland will encourage heathland plants and wildlife to flourish once more.

The size and scale of this restoration project means we'll phase it over several years. We'll also be monitoring and managing the restored habitat for the next 25 years to make sure it flourishes.

Find out more about our M25 J10 upgrade.