Snippets of success in the Central region
Take a look at some of the year’s highlights here:
Celebrating wardens and relief wardens across the central region
During lockdown and over the summer months we saw a dramatic rise in the number of visitors to our woods. We were so pleased to be able to welcome new visitors to our sites and were proud to be able to provide people with a chance to escape the confines of their homes and walk awhile in our beautiful woodlands. I am certain that people felt a sense of relief taking a stroll in our woods and left feeling positive during these difficult times.
Unfortunately a small minority of our visitors did not act in a responsible way and having enjoyed the site, left rubbish, built fires and damaged some areas of habitat. Therefore in order to support the Woodland Trust in tracking these and other types of antisocial behaviour, we created a brand new volunteer role called a ‘relief warden’. Working with site managers, we determined where we’d need this additional support and our existing Woodland Trust volunteers were invited to sign up. We had volunteers sign up from Pepper Wood in Worcestershire and Tring Park and Heartwood Forest, both in Hertfordshire. We are so very grateful to them for taking on these additional responsibilities.
Our relief wardens, woodland wardens and wildlife monitors helped us by carrying out a number of activities on site. With the rise in littering and anti-social behaviour, they helped by picking up rubbish, checked to see if bins needed to be emptied, cleared and repaired damaged areas and carried out ongoing monitoring of the litter in problem areas. To ensure our woods remained welcoming places to visit, the volunteers worked hard to ensure that pathways were kept open and accessible to visitors, cleaned and maintained welcome boards, removed bramble and more.
The work of one of our groups of relief wardens was recognised by the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, Henry Holland-Hibbert and the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire Robert Voss. They presented the Heartwood volunteers with a ‘heroes of Hertfordshire award’, which we think is absolutely brilliant!
Bramingham Woods volunteers celebrate 35 years at the wood!
We joined in celebrating the 35 year anniversary of our Bramingham Wood volunteers. We are so grateful to the volunteers who have supported the wood over the years, and we think back to all of the work that they have collectively carried out for us. From coppicing, grass cutting, and path clearance, to litter picking, carrying out maintenance work and recording wildlife, they have really taken good care of the wood. It is down to their hard work that the wood is in such great shape, making it a wonderful site for wildlife and a much treasured place for members of the local community. Thank you to all for making this woodland a place treasured by the local community.
Reconnecting Grantham to its historic landscape – Londonthorpe Project
During the summer of 2020 work on the brand new project began in earnest. Focussing on the Woodland Trust-owned Londonthorpe Woods and National Trust-owned Bellmount, (both of which are part of the historic Brownlow Estate) the ‘Reconnecting Grantham to its historic landscape’ project aims to raise public awareness, understanding and engagement with Londonthorpe Woods and Bellmount, as well as better conserving their historic and natural assets. The four year project will encourage audiences to explore the two adjoining sites. Welcome information, engaging interpretation and inspiring activities will enable people to learn the heritage story of this special landscape.
Conservation work will improve wildlife habitats, restore key parkland and built heritage features, ensuring the continuation of the Brownlow legacy. This will be supported by an extensive community and volunteering programme that will develop new skills and contribute to the ongoing management of this historic landscape
For more info about the project you can email LondonthorpeBellmount@woodlandtrust.org.uk
Project takes root at Hainault
2020 saw us begin work at Hainault Forst in earnest. Sitting on the doorstep of the vast population of London, we have a unique opportunity to inspire people with our cause and to help foster local support to ensure the sustainable future of the forest in years to come. We’re joining forces with neighbouring landowners the London Borough of Redbridge to create a resilient forest landscape that provides an inspiring visitor offer and a space where habitats are conserved and wildlife can thrive. And we’ve made a good start!
The purchase of an additional piece of land adjacent to the forest means we’ll be able to further extend the important buffer to the ancient woodland. Planting plans have been finalised, and we hope to start getting trees in the ground in early 2021.
We now have a dedicated member of staff to take a lead on progressing our visitor experience work at this site. George Lewis, in his role as Hainault Development Officer, has been busy during his first 6 months in post. Visitor counters are now in place across the forest, meaning we can capture important baseline information about footfall which will help our decision making around management and visitor development; internal work is being finalised to guide our forest interpretation and infrastructure – ready for delivery next year, and all kinds of conversations are starting to happen around joint volunteering opportunities, visitor centre potential, engagement programmes and more – so watch this space!
Amanda Brookes – VDO Central Region
Feature image – Volunteers with Heroes of Hertforshire award – Judith Parry
Bramingham Wood Image – Rod Higginson
Planting at Londonthorpe image- Estelle Slegers Helsen