Woodlands and trees are a critical part of our rural and urban landscape. Ancient woodlands of the southeast are an important habitat that supports diverse wildlife. They provide amenity for visitors and local business with sustainable rural craft materials such as fencing and furniture, whilst providing heat for our homes. Urban trees are invaluable. They provide the sense of well-being to the people that live within urban areas and are a hub for wildlife such as Bats, birds and insects.
For the past 6000 years management of woodlands has been an important part of our heritage and culture. They are heaving with wildlife and archaeology from past woodland industries. Although the rise of population and agriculture has led to the decline in woodlands, there is still a valuable proportion of land covered by trees. The South East of England boasts the largest percentage of ancient woodland cover in the UK. This is based on areas of woodland that have not changed land use to the 17th century.
Much of the ancient and semi natural woodland of the South East has been managed for timber crops for several thousands of years by the silvicultural practice of coppicing. Our broadleaf trees such as ash, hazel, hornbeam and sweet chestnut are quite hardy, once they are cut at ground level they resprout from the base to form a multi stemmed stool.
Cutting many of these stools in small compartments over staggered periods produces a multi age cycle that can be harvested as timber on a rotation. Many woodland scientists believe that this mimics in some respect the grazing and clearing that would of occurred by large land herbivores such as beaver, boar, bear, native deer and wild cattle many centuries ago.
Thus the cutting and re growing of small woodland areas and management of glades alters light and temperature which favours many woodland endangered species including; flora such as Green hound’s-tongue and Lady orchid. Mammals such as the Hazel Dormouse. Birds such as the Bullfinch, Yellow hammer and Lesser spotted woodpecker and Bats such as Noctule & Bechstein's. We are greatly concerned with the protection, restoration and management of our woodlands. As keepers of the woodland we feel it is our duty of care to manage responsibly and correctly. We follow strict guidelines from the Forestry Commission and work under the Commissions English Woodland Grant Scheme.
If, like us, you are concerned about our woodlands future and care for our rural community’s woodland produce, please visit either the Forestry Commission or you may be interested in becoming part of the Woodland Trust.