Whippendell Wood - ancient woodland restoration project
Whippendell Wood is designated as a Site of Significant Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its ancient woodland and clay-with-flints soil. The park manager has been working closely with Natural England and the Forestry Commission to produce an up to date management plan and secure Countryside Stewardship funding to support a five-year programme of work to restore and conserve the woodland.
The aim is to improve the structural and species diversity of the woodland to support more wildlife, improve access, create better links with the park and wider landscape, and to fulfil our statutory duties in protecting this SSSI and keeping it at ‘favourable condition’ status. Over the next 5 years we will be:
- Removing invasive non-native species such as cherry laurel, snowberry and rhododendron which spread and outcompete our native plant species and reduce the diversity of ground flora
- Creating a more diverse mosaic of tree/shrub species, age and structure through sensitive thinning of densely shaded woodland areas
- Increase open spaces by opening up rides and glades, and creating links between the bigger open spaces (strawberry fields) for ecological connectivity
- Reducing the amount of non-native conifers that were planted as plantations to favour a natural broadleaf mix of trees and shrubs
- Identifying and mapping veteran and biologically significant trees and removing the competition that threatens their survival and health
- Reintroducing traditional management of coppicing to provide link with historic management
- Retaining dead and decaying wood such as fallen logs or snags to support habitats for fungi and invertebrates
- Conserving historic landscape features such as wood banks, dells, avenues and roundels
- Improving access and signage including new entrance signs and maps, and a public rights of way (PROW) project with the Rambles Association and Hertfordshire County Council and a bridal way project with the National Horse Association.