May 25 Ancient Woodland Restoration By Rich

Jim Smith has written to us with news of an important initiative in the Sussex Weald, aimed at helping land owners restore plantations on ancient woodland sites (PAWS) back to ancient woodlands.  If you have further comments or questions, please contact him directly.

We have already lost the vast majority of our ancient woodland: just 2 per cent, and falling,
of our landscape is now covered by it. What remains is often compromised, either by direct
damage, or by more subtle changes. In many cases this has included the replacement of
some or all of the native broadleaved canopy with plantation trees, usually conifers, or
rhododendron and other invasive species overtaking the understorey. In some areas such as
the Weald, plantations can also include broadleaves such as sweet chestnut 1 , which can
dominate woodland and reduce its value for wildlife.

However there is hope! The Woodland Trust, with funding from the Heritage Lottery fund
and private donors, is running an ambitious project in the Weald area. We are offering free
advice and guidance to help private landowners around the country bring these woodlands
back towards a more natural state, through a gradual process of restoration. This can also
provide a valuable timber crop and other wood products.

If you would like more information on this exciting project, or own some plantation on
ancient woodland within the Weald area, and would like some advice on how to restore it,
please contact Jim Smith-Wright, the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Woodland Restoration

Officer for the Low Weald: [email protected] / 07768 506664.


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