Ancient woodland restoration walk at Joyden’s Wood
Last month, site manager Peter Coles led a guided walk at Joyden’s Wood to inform regular visitors about the Trust’s approach to managing planted ancient woodland sites like Joyden’s, just 13 miles from the centre of London.
Peter clearly conveyed the importance and rarity of ancient woodland, and how so little of it is in good ecological condition, illustrated by some interesting facts from the Trust’s recent State of the UK’s Woods and Trees report.
Peter explained that many of the native trees here were felled to plant fast-growing timber trees in the 1950s due to post-war timber shortages. Under Peter’s watchful eye, last year we resumed selectively thinning some areas of the Corsican pine to allow more light to the woodland floor, enabling native flora to regenerate and create a more diverse habitat for wildlife. We couldn’t hold any of the planned guided walks last year due to COVID, so information signs, letter drops to volunteers and local residents and a regular presence on site helped people understand what they could see happening. With restrictions eased, we felt it was a good time to offer a walk and engage any of the local community who still had questions. Many of our site volunteers attended to support the walk and contribute their knowledge. Thanks especially to Owen Davis (WWG member/secretary) for his outstanding efforts in working with us to promote the walk locally.
In the conifer plantation areas, it was clear to see how they are shading out the native vegetation. Very little, apart from bracken, is growing underneath their dense canopies. In the short time it takes for the pines to grow tall, native oaks may only grow half the height so they get shaded out. Thinning creates larger gaps in the canopy, allowing light and space for native trees to grow and the ancient soil’s seedbank to be reinvigorated. Participants learned of the importance of deadwood, how it’s a vital habitat for so many invertebrates and fungi.
Peter explained how the thinning needs to be done very gradually, otherwise bracken and bramble cover may smother before saplings can creep through. Felling will be resumed this year, starting in September/October, after bird nesting and before conditions become too wet.
Feedback from a participant illustrated the importance of community engagement through walks like these:
“Thank you to Peter for the informative and enjoyable walk last Thursday. Having lived at Joyden’s Wood since 1960 I have spent many hours in the woods. It is good to know the work of the Woodland Trust will look after the site for future generations.”
Article written by Grace Davis, Engagement and Communications Officer at the Woodland Trust.