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


Hedgerows - In 2024 we started to lay a hedgerow along Star and Garter Hill using native (sapling) trees planted in 2016/17 with the help of Russell School and Deutsch Schule London.  Hedgerow laying is an ancient heritage skill that is highly beneficial to native songbirds; is aesthetically pleasing to many people; will encourage native songbirds to nest; and will become a valuable habitat for native animals.


Hedgerow laid alongside Star and Garter Hill - 2024