On 9 June volunteers from the AECOM Chelmsford, St Albans and Croydon offices attended a corporate volunteering event at Galleywood Common in Chelmsford to help the Parks and Conservation team at Chelmsford City Council in the conservation of the native Heather at this site.

Galleywood Common is a lovely lowland heath site, one of only two in Essex which supports native Heather. However, due to the nature of the site, Gorse plants grow in abundance in the area and can affect the growth and survival of the Heather.

The volunteers set about clearing away Gorse plants and other invasive species that were overrunning the site to generate space and light for the tiny shrubs of Heather growing amongst them.

During the event the team informed us about Heather and how important it is to retain it on the heath site. We learnt that although Heather is common in the UK and Ireland, it is scarcer in the East of England reiterating the importance of the volunteering work we were doing that day.

Heather is also known as ‘ling’ and is an abundant plant on heathland, moorland, bogs and even in woodland with acidic or peat soils. Its delicate pink flowers appear from August to October and are a contrast to the tough, wiry, sprawling stems they grow upon. Plants grow tightly packed together and can live for up to 40 years or more.

Historically, Heather has been used for many purposes, such as fuel, fodder, building materials, thatch, packing and ropes. It was also used to make brooms, which is how it got its Latin name – Calluna, derived from the Greek word meaning ‘to brush’.