The Green has a variety of habitats:
The Green is partitioned by a hedge that runs from the twitten on the south west side of the Green almost to the north eastern boundary.
This hedge forms a substantial visual boundary between Station Road and New Road. It appears to be the oldest on site with large mature oak and ash and hedgerow species consisting of hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn, damson, field maple, holly and bramble. The number of species found per 30 metres indicates an age of between 500-600 years
Hedges are very important for wildlife because as well as being a habitat in themselves, they also act as wildlife corridors allowing different species to move around the countryside and colonize new areas. The Green has a good network of hedges many of which are species-rich indicating an ancient origin. The presence of ancient woodland species in the hedges such as bluebells and primroses would indicate that they are probably remnants of the original woodland cover and as such are of very high conservation value. Hedgerows were often left as boundaries when the fields were hacked out of the woodland, a process known as assarting.
Some of the hedges have been allowed to develop as unmanaged or ‘free growing’ hedges and are now extremely good habitat for insects and birds. Others have been coppiced to rejuvenate the growth from the bottom and develop a thick base. Hedge coppicing is a traditional method of restoring the stock – proof properties of a hedge. In other places we have laid the hedges to maintain a cattle proof boundary; these are temporarily fenced with barbed wire to ensure new growth is not damaged. Having a variety of hedge heights provides scope for many types of bird and small mammals.
The two fields in the north of the green consist of dry grassland. In the late 19th century, they were probably used for growing hops. They are now permanent pasture which has been lightly fertilized in the recent past and as a result are lacking in wild flowers. Upper Champs field slopes towards the north-east and Lower Champs slopes to the south and east and is likely therefore to create a warmer micro-climate than elsewhere. It should therefore support a higher proportion of insects, which given the choice, will choose a south facing slope.
The central area of Lower Springfield is mixed grassland with a better indication of wildlife habitat than the adjoining fields. This may be due to the poorer drainage and lower fertiliser application. The northern area between the bridge and the boundary is water logged. A group of Hazel coppice are growing on the edge of this area. Evidence from the feeding pattern on the hazel nuts has indicated the presence of Dormice.
Wetland area and copse
The site is waterlogged except during the summer months. In the central area are growing young Ash, Hazel and Willow. Some of these latter trees have either uprooted or collapsed. In between the trees are open spaces with patches of brambles and nettles. At the northern end is a semi-mature Beech. By the start of the boardwalk (nature trail stake no. 12) is a small specimen of Cotoneaster bullatus, of unknown origin. The cattle use this area, mainly for shade and water. A boardwalk was constructed in 2001 from by the Upper Springfield entrance to a bridge at the far end over the stream leading into Lower Springfield.
This site is of special interest due to the variety of bryophytes, lichens and liverworts growing mainly on the trees, including one species not before recorded in East Sussex. A range of fungi can also be found during the autumn.
Stream and pond
The stream, which eventually leads into the River Grom and Medway, runs through most of the Green. Its bank is lined with three varieties of Willow, many of which have either uprooted or collapsed into the field. The stream is silted up in places mainly due to the fallen trees.
Most of the plants in the pond have naturalised, but a few local species were also planted. Some alien pond species have been noted (probably thrown in by members of the public in the mistaken belief that garden pond species are natural.) A patch of native shrubs have been planted around the pond banks.
The stream line runs to the north of the pond and has become silted and overgrown in its route towards Lower Springfield. The wet flush above the ‘dam’ is showing signs of drying out and is becoming overgrown with rank grass. Originally it was very wet and had a diverse group of wetland species.