FRIENDS OF
NORTON COMMON

Conserving Habitat
Promoting Leisure

60 ACRE NATURE RESERVE
IN THE HEART OF
LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY

Find out how the Friends
care for this unique space

EXPERIENCE A
DIVERSITY OF
FLORA AND FAUNA

Become a Friend and find out
what makes Norton Common
such a special habitat

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Latest News

this is the current website for FoNC

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2019 Open meeting

This year’s Open meeting will be on Monday 20th May at 7.30p.m.. Keep the date free and look out for our next newsletter which will have full details of the event. The 2018-2019 accounts summary s available on the resources/open meetings page of this website along with this year's agenda.

Working Parties

The winter working parties have been opening up part of Icknield wood (the wood that runs alongside Icknield Way). This work, part of the current Five Year Plan, aims to give more space for the existing trees along with some replanting to maintain the woodland for future generations. Whilst doing this work we have been creating habitat piles which are a home and a source of food for many animals. These woodland management plans follow the guidelines of the Forestry Commission and the Wildlife Trust. Some people have admired the work and a few people have reservations about the size and extent of the work. We believe that we are treating the Common correctly but welcome any views from people who have concerns. We are due to discuss this topic as part of the new Five Year Plan at our March Steering meeting. If you feel strongly either way then please let us know. 

Commemorative Bench

Ron Jennings, a long-standing volunteer with Countryside Management Service (CMS) and a life-long resident of Letchworth recently passed away. Ron was an important member and motivator of the Thursday CMS group, which often came to the Common for joint working parties. He was also quite a local character and whilst he’d slowed down a little in later years, he was a very active person, being well known and regarded amongst those who were involved in organised walking, running and badminton. CMS will be installing a commemorative bench on the Common in memory of Ron.

Paths on the Common

Additional Section 106 funding has been found to help with some of the pathways across the Common that get muddy in prolonged wet periods. Quotes are being obtained for several paths that are particularly prone to this problem. It is unclear at this point in time how far the funds can be stretched but we will keep you informed.

Cowslips on the Meadow

The number of Cowslips counted during the 2018 survey was low (possibly due to the weather). The surveys are completed at the same time each year so that we have a direct comparison to monitor numbers across the years. This year we hope to run the survey twice with one being completed earlier. It is a possibility that with the changing weather patterns the plants may be developing earlier in the season. It will be interesting to see the numbers from both surveys.

Bat Boxes

During last year’s Bat surveys some dates were missed due to the lack of volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for this survey then please let us know (no prior knowledge/experience needed). Last year’s survey noted six species of bat which is an increase on the previous figures. 

Ash Dieback

Ash dieback (Chalara) has recently been confirmed on Weston Hills in Baldock so it is just a matter of time before it reaches Norton Common. It could have a devastating effect, since a majority of the mature trees on the common are Ash. If you see any evidence of the disease please notify us by using our contact email. Alternatively notify the forestry commission at the web site given below. 

In order to prevent the disease spreading we urge you to make sure you clean and dry your footwear at home after leaving site, and make sure you have clean footwear before coming on site.

 For advice on how to identify the disease and what to look for, go to :

http://www.north-herts.gov.uk/home/parks-and-open-spaces/ash-tree-dieback-chalara-fraxinea

We are now on Facebook

We are pleased to announce that we now have a Facebook page. If you use Facebook then please sign in and give us your thoughts and photos. https://www.facebook.com/friendsofnortoncommon

Five year plan for Norton Common

 The plan covering the next 5 years has now been published you can view it at the link below:

http://www.north-herts.gov.uk/sites/northherts-cms/files/Norton%20Common%20Green%20Flag%20management%20plan%202015-20.pdf

 

Norton Common is a Green Flag Award Winner

Friends at Work

Dog Fouling

There is currently a campaign to remind owners that allowing your dog to foul a public space is against the law (see above). 

Users of the common may have recently noticed dog poo found in high traffic areas has been sprayed with red fluorescent paint. This is to alert people to its presence, and hopefully to shame offending dog owners to clear up after their dogs.  

Most dog owners are very conscientious about clearing up after their furry friends however a small number of owners still do not clear up their dog’s mess.  We do urge everyone to clear up after their dogs as it is very unpleasant for other users of the common. In addition, parasites in dog mess may cause serious illness in small children who are the most likely to get covered in it.

Surveys

The Friends of Norton Common have been monitoring wildlife populations on the common for the last 5 years; specifically the Southern Marsh Orchid population on the large marsh, the Cowslip population in the meadow, and frequency of butterfly species during the summer. We hope to find that our activities are having a positive impact on wildlife in the long term. Results of these surveys can found in our resources section of the website.

We note that this year’s survey has shown a dramatic increase in the orchid population on the marsh which we find very encouraging.

Ash Dieback

There have still been no reports of the Ash Chalara dieback disease on the Common yet although it has been reported near Royston. Please keep a lookout and let us know if you see any suspect signs. See the Forestry Commission website for further details.

Nature Trail

We have created a Nature Trail across the Common which can be completed using the summary guide under the Resources menu option. Full walk documents are available giving all the background information of the the things you may discover on the walk. The trail can be completed within an hour and is ideal for children during the school holidays. Please let us know your experiences of the trail.


The Friends of Norton Common (FoNC) is a voluntary group working to preserve the precious habitat of Norton Common for both the people and wildlife of Letchworth. Working in consultation with the Countryside Management Service (CMS) and North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC), we push forward with work, solving issues on the site and holding monthly work parties to carry out conservation tasks.

Nestled in the heart of Letchworth Garden City, Norton Common Nature Reserve is a haven for people and wildlife. Starting life as arable and grazing land many hundreds of years ago, the town of Letchworth was built around it in 1903 by town planners who saw its potential as a place where the town’s citizens could connect with nature. Generations since have used this green space to walk in, run, cycle and play. Many visit to see the wildlife that is on their doorstep.

Now, more than ever, the Common is alive with wildlife. Orange tip and meadow brown butterflies dance from wildflower to wildflower, birds such as chiff chaffs and blackcaps share their song and mammals like the black squirrel and muntjac deer peek out from behind trees. Pix Brook meanders through the site providing a vitally important source of water and creating rare marshy grassland where dragonflies and the pink spires of orchids can be spotted during summer months.

The Friends of Norton Common are an Associate Group under LALG and we would like to thank them for their ongoing support and help in our work to promote and conserve the Common. LALG is a unique organisation with such a wide range of interests. If you have not already come across them then have a look at their website (www.lalg.org.uk)