Large blocks of woodland planting have been undertaken within Walshes Park adding wider diversity to the number of native tree and shrub species found, while providing huge new areas of potential habitat for bird, mammal and insect life.
Each woodland block contains a mixture of native woodland species planted as small young plants (called whips) giving the m the best start to establish healthy strong root systems while young and most resilient to changing conditions. Planted at an approximate one metre spacing between each individual, allowing for easy access for periodic woodland care.
The areas of woodland planting are protected by deer fencing, designed to keep the local deer population out of the planted areas, which they may otherwise destroy by grazing on their tender young leaves and stems. Each whip is also crucially protected with an individual plastic spiral guard supported by a cane offering protection again the local rabbit population who would otherwise strip the young bark, killing the plant.
Over a period of 5 to 10 and 10 to 15 years, as each tree and shrub establishes and grows in both height and spread, choices are made by the woodland management team as to what percentage of the mix may need to be removed or ‘thinned’ from the woodland. This is to allow the remaining trees and shrubs to grow and establish to their full size potential, creating healthy mature woodland environments within the park. Where Hazel is planted in large groups or ‘swaths’, the selected management type of this area of woodland is called Coppicing.
Coppicing is an ancient form of woodland management that involves repetitive felling of the same stump as near to ground level as possible then allowing the shoots to regrow before felling again, forming a stump also known as the coppice stool. This management regime will be implemented here to prevent tall tree growth below overhead cables while producing hazel poles for use in hedgerow management around the park.
The long-term plan includes the opening of some woodland blocks to the pubic once they are established enough to be left unprotected following the removal of the deer fencing. This will enable the woodland block to integrate with the neighbouring copse of Ancient Woodland. Woodland walking routes will also allow closer access to the diverse woodland ecology and future development of the woodland.
What is Ancient Woodland?
In the United Kingdom, an ancient woodland is a woodland that has existed continuously since 1600 or before in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (or 1750 in Scotland). Before those dates, planting of new woodland was uncommon, so a wood present in 1600 was likely to have developed naturally. Ancient woodland covers only around 2 per cent of the land area of the UK, and needs to be protected.
Characteristics of Ancient Woodland: Because they have developed over such long timescales, ancient woods have unique features such as relatively undisturbed soils and communities of plants and animals that depend on the stable conditions ancient woodland provides, some of which are rare and vulnerable. Some produce spectacular displays of spring flowers – carpets of bluebells and bursts of wood anemones and celandines in spring. Abundant fungi can point to undisturbed soils. Other ancient woodland indicator species include wild garlic, dogs mercury and yellow pimpernel.
Native Woodland Species Planted:
- Alnus glutinosa : Alder
- Quercus robur : English Oak
- Fagus sylvatica : Common Beech
- Corylus avellana : Hazel
- Crataegus monogyna: Common Hawthorn
- Prunus avium : Wild Cherry
- Malus sylvestris : Crab Apple
- Acer campestre : Field Maple
- Ilex aquifolium : Holly
- Sorbus torminalis: Wild Service tree
Visit the Woodland Trust website (external link) for more interesting facts about our native trees and woodlands.