Nov 28 2019

Restoring Great Ridings Wood to its native glory

By Nigel Watson, Volunteer Warden at Great Ridings Wood


A successful one-day practical conservation project at Great Ridings Wood was held on Sunday 17 November.  The aim was to cut back the large, invasive laurel between the woodland and the bridleway on the south edge of the wood. This will allow native trees and plants, which have been shaded out by the laurel, to recover and will also help to restore a nearby path in the wood to its proper alignment.


The work was organised and led by site manager, Kate Harvey, and Nigel and Martina Watson, who are volunteer wardens at the wood.   Ten other volunteers attended, including three people recruited from Horsley and Effingham, in response to a flyer drop by the Parish Council.


Volunteer Warden Martina Watson. Photo credit: Kate Harvey

The day’s work was good fun, especially as we all benefited from dry and bright weather; making a welcome change from much of this autumn!  The laurels, though tall and tangled, proved reasonably easy to cut so excellent progress was made.  Using bow saws and loppers, the team felled the main stems and cut up the branches, which were stacked nearby.  These piles will soon rot down and meanwhile will provide habitat for visiting wildlife.


At the end of the afternoon, the edge of the laurels had been pushed back by around five metres along most of the affected strip of woodland.  A very worthwhile result!


The Woodland Trust is arranging for a contractor to fell some of the remaining larger laurels and to treat all the cut stools against re-growth.  This is planned to take place very soon.


Beyond that, the Trust will consider what further action is necessary.  Ideally from a conservation perspective all the laurel would be removed, to prevent any re-invasion by seedlings or suckers.  However, some of the remaining laurel is growing just outside the Trust’s boundary, on the verge of the Horsley to Effingham bridleway.  Further thought will be given to this.


Kate, Nigel and Martina will also consider whether there might be scope for another volunteer day in 2020, either for further work on clearing laurel or for anything else.  If these plans develop we will advertise the event in Horsley using social media channels.  Practical conservation work in the woods is a great day out, to achieve a useful and satisfying result, and is also healthy exercise.  It beats going to the gym!


If you’d like to find out more about the work begin carried out at Great Ridings Wood, please click here to read our Management Plan 2019 – 2024.

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