Protecting the woodland of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire
PUBLISHED: 12:12 12 January 2015 | UPDATED: 12:12 12 January 2015
The woodlands of Berkshire and Buckinghamshire are such an important part of our heritage, whether it's the ancient trees we marvel at, or more recently planted sites
It’s easy to take for granted the sights we enjoy while out on a walk with family, both the human variety and our dogs. So it’s good to report on the activities of those who ensure we can continue to enjoy such outings. A team of volunteers took just a few hours to open up and restore a well-used ride to make access easier at the popular and beautiful Hockeridge and Pancake Woods, situated between Ashley Green and Berkhamsted. The woods are owned by the Royal Forestry Society (RFS). They were bequeathed to them in 1986 by Mary Wellesley, great grand-daughter of the Duke of Wellington. She rescued the woods from neglect in 1952 and helped create the wonderful woods we see today.
The RFS want to work with local people and the Chiltern Society to help maintain the woods for future generations. The wood hosts a huge diversity of native and non-native trees, wildflowers, butterflies, badgers, stoats, deer and birds, all of which add-up to a fantastic experience when you visit the woods.
The Chiltern Society is a local environmental charity with almost 7,000 members based in Chesham. This was the first work-party organised by the Chiltern Society in conjunction with the RFS. Highly experienced conservation volunteers from the Society were ably assisted by local volunteers. From these enthusiast individuals it is hoped to create a regular conservation group dedicated to looking after the woods.
The work involved cutting back and coppicing self-seeded trees, removing bracken and bramble and generally tidying up the ride to encourage the movement of birds, insects and butterflies. Future work parties will carry out a range of conservation work ideally suited to people of all ages and levels of fitness.
All the volunteers enjoyed a well-earned cup of tea and slice of cake after an hour or so of hard but satisfying work and then carried on to finish the job!
If you’re a regular visitor, want to find out more or would like to join this group, contact the Chiltern Society’s volunteer co-ordinator, Geoff Wiggett on 01442 875906 or the Royal Forestry Society on 01295 678588.
Meanwhile, there’s more good news to report, this time from Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT). In our September issue we told readers about their campaign to purchase Yoesden Bank and woodland between Bledlow Ridge and Radnage, just west of High Wycombe, so that it can be preserved for future generations.
Thanks to the amazing generosity of BBOWT members, and many other people who have given to the Yoesden Bank appeal, the target of £150,000 was reached in just four weeks.
Estelle Bailey, BBOWT chief executive, says: “I’m thrilled that we are going to save Yoesden and protect such a beautiful and important place for wildlife and people. The generosity of BBOWT members and everyone who has donated to the appeal is staggering. In addition to the £110,000 received in generous gifts, we have received grants and pledges that will enable us to carry out conservation management and provide people with more opportunities to discover the wildlife and heritage of Chilterns woods.”
Yoesden Bank is a swathe of precious chalk grassland that’s filled with wild flowers and thrums with insects during the summer. Above this the ‘hanger’ woodland of beech, yew and whitebeam trees clothes the steep hillside that overlooks Radnage Valley. Estelle Bailey describes it as a “wonderful jewel in the Chilterns, full of colourful flowers and butterflies.”
BBOWT now plans to continue the careful management of this very special wildlife site, which has been done by the previous owners so well for the last 20 years. There will be guided walks, workshops and events, work parties to help control the scrub, and detailed surveying of the grassland so that it is kept in the best condition for flowers and herbs that provide essential food and shelter for butterflies and other insects.
Go to www.bbowt.org.uk/yoesden to see photos, watch videos of BBOWT ecologist Debbie Lewis talk about the special wildlife here, and what the Wildlife Trust will do to maintain the chalk grassland and woodland.