A major restoration project is underway at the National Trust’s largest ancient woodland, Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, to improve the site’s prospects for wildlife and protect its diverse habitats, which are home to many species that are endangered or in decline.
The estate, which has been used as a location for films including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Les Misérables, is equally well-known for its diverse landscape including rare chalk grassland, Capability Brown parkland, open commons and ancient woodland that are home of a rich variety of wildlife.
The woodland at Ashridge Estate is also the largest in the care of the conservation charity, with nearly half of the 2000-hectare (4942-acre) estate covered in woodland, of which 299 hectares (738 acres) are classified as ancient woodland.
Now a three-year project will restore 42 hectares (104 acres) of ancient woodland, equivalent to 103 football pitches, the first of its scale undertaken by the Trust.
The work will involve removing non-native conifers and replanting the project areas with native broadleaf species. This year, the first two-hectare (4.9 acres) clearfell block will be replanted with 3,200 saplings.
Tom Hill, Trees and Woodland Adviser for the National Trust said: “Restoring plantation woods back to native broadleaf habitats is essential work that the National Trust is undertaking to prevent the decline in the UK’s wildlife. Our ancient woodland soils hold incredibly rich seedbanks and are teeming with microscopic life below ground, essentially forming the base of the ecological pyramid. They provide essential habitats for a huge variety of species of wildlife which are important for a healthy ecosystem.”
The restoration project was previously thought to be impossible due to its scale, and because much of this ancient woodland is located on particularly inaccessible and ecologically vulnerable parts of the landscape.
Posted On: 08/12/2022