As part of the Ecology Solutions Management Plan we are strengthening all 3 layers of the woodland, namely the ground cover, the shrub layer and the canopy. This includes establishing a more diverse environment and dense understory providing native tree blocks for songbird nesting habitat. We are also opening glades of native wildflowers for invertebrates and butterflies.
Between 2016 - 2023 we planted approximately 26,000 trees to help restore the understorey - a vital habitat and source of food for nesting songbirds. We opened up 8 glades (ground layer) and 2 coppice glades (shrub layer). 2 Hedgerows and roadside planting is helping to improve the habitat. We have started to map the trees.
Native or Not Native
Our management plan is to
- control non-native trees from spreading – such as the horse chestnut (introduced 1616), Sycamore (1500s), Norway maple trees (1750s); the North American red oak (donated by Richmond, Virginia 1977); the Turkey oak.
- plant and encourage native trees - such as the English oak, hornbeam, ash and field maple.
How we classify “native” is open to interpretation! The UK, a nation of islands with a history of global sea faring trade, exploration, science, geographical change, invasions, has many potential “cut-off dates” to classify a tree as native. A widely held view is that a tree established before 1492 and during the Christopher Columbus era is “native”.
Rotational coppicing. This is a traditional woodland management approach that cuts the understorey trees to encourage a denser regrowth and to improve the habitat for songbirds. We use coppiced wood for stakes and binders for hedgerow laying though, historically, it was also used as a sustainable source of firewood, building material and also made into charcoal for smelting metals and cooking.
Malus (apple) species in bloom Petersham Common March 2017