The Heart of England Forest http://www.heartofenglandforest.com We're planting tomorrow's great native woodland one tree at a time. A new broadleaf forest across south Warwickshire and Worcestershire that's for everyone to enjoy. Wed, 01 Jul 2015 14:18:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The planting season is over, finally! http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/changingseasons/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/changingseasons/#comments Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:52:50 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=837 The post The planting season is over, finally! appeared first on The Heart of England Forest.

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Head forester Stephen Coffey reports on progress.

Wow, what a long planting season we’ve had. We started in the last week of November and finished in the third week of April – which meant we could plant over 140,000 trees and create a further 314 acres of new native broadleaved woodland.

That makes it one of our best years ever, beaten only by the record 325 acres planted in 2011.

Alongside our dedicated planting gangs, our volunteer planters made a significant contribution this year, and it was great to see some familiar faces on our corporate sponsor days from the likes of Dennis Publishing Ltd and Phoenix Group.

As well as new woodland creation, we have to look after our mature woodlands. To complement the hazel coppicing undertaken over the winter, we planted over 1,000 hazel saplings to thicken up the coppice areas. And, as part of our continued efforts to convert conifer plantations back to native broadleaves, we also replanted a clear fell (an area that had previously been cleared of trees) with over 2,000 native broadleaves.

As I write this, the newly planted saplings are all flourishing, and so far it looks as if it will be a good take. And, as you might expect, we’re already planning the next 300 acres for the coming planting season – and hoping we can get past the 325 marker… with your support I am sure we will!

Every day’s a school day… learn the life cycle of a woodland!

Seed

The fertilised embryo of a tree: it has a hard case for protection, but is still very vulnerable to animals and the elements light, warmth and moisture are crucial for germination once it’s been dispersed by wind, water, animals and people. First, the seed will grow a root to seek moisture and nutrients and then it will develop a shoot which will grow towards the light.

Seedling

The first stage of growth is the most vulnerable stage, with threats from hungry animals and insects, and fire, flood and drought. The shoot hardens, changes colour and develops protective bark. It develops branches and leaves to absorb light. The roots stay mainly in upper soil to absorb most water and nutrients although one root will carry on down looking for anchorage as the seedling grows taller.

Sapling

Either naturally set or newly planted trees generally over 50cm tall, and up to 5cm diameter. The trunk thickens and branches develop. A sapling is not mature enough to reproduce, and is vulnerable to the same threats as a seedling.

Thicket

The woodland is more established and the tree canopies broaden and start to fill any available space – and compete with each other for sunlight. This means light at the forest floor is restricted, and natural thinning starts as less hardy saplings fail or are suppressed.

Mature

Each tree will grow as much as its environment permits. A tree is said to be mature once it can produce seed, so flowers develop, fruit forms and reproduction begins.

A mature woodland is one that has reached its full potential and is full of big tress that tower over us.

Veteran

Trees well past maturity are said to be senescent and in decline. This is an important part of the life cycle of the forest, as the death of one tree will mean more light to the forest floor to germinate tree seeds that will eventually fill the available space in the woodland.

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The great bird survey results are in… http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/birdsintheforest/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/birdsintheforest/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 14:56:36 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=839 The post The great bird survey results are in… appeared first on The Heart of England Forest.

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Last autumn and over the winter months, ecological consultants Rainsbrook Ecology carried out a bird survey across the 2,900 acres that currently make up the Heart of England Forest.

Mistle thrush, Turdus viscivorus, single bird on berries, Warwickshire, December 2014

Mistle thrush, Turdus viscivorus, single bird on berries, Warwickshire, December 2014

The aim was to compile a species list for each area of the forest, to show the variety of birds visiting, how they are distributed and their breeding behaviour.

This information is vital for our project teams when they’re making decisions about the management of the forest. And a really fascinating local insight for everyone else.

A total of 73 different species were recorded in the survey, which is a huge number for an area in the heart of England without any significant wetlands (which usually attract migrating birds in particular). And that number included some unexpected spots, with 13 conservation Red List species, 12 Species of Principle Importance and three species afforded special wildlife protection.

Skylark, Alauda arvensis,  single bird on post, Warwickshire, May 2014

Skylark, Alauda arvensis, single bird on post, Warwickshire, May 2014

It’s also interesting to look at the types of species that were found in each different area of the forest. There were lots of birds associated with farmland recorded in the newly planted areas but, as the forest matures, it’s expected that there will be an increase in woodland species.

This detailed information will mean our foresters can plan the new planting to promote a good mix of woodland and grassland, and ensure as many species as possible continue to visit and make home in the forest.

 

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Woodland rehab http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/woodlandrehab/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/woodlandrehab/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 14:54:24 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=841 The post Woodland rehab appeared first on The Heart of England Forest.

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HOEF Falconer-208Gary Kirkpatrick has been involved with the Heart of England Forest since last summer, when he was introduced to the forestry team through his Recovery Career Service director. An ex-Army Officer, Gary was seriously injured in training in 2006. After three years in military rehab, Gary started attending Tedworth House, a recovery centre run by Help For Heroes, and it was from here that he took his first visit to the forest – and started to realise the incredible restorative powers of the trees.

‘I have always loved forests, and own my own small area of woodland,’ Gary explains. ‘So when the HoEF approached Help For Heroes to discuss potential projects, I was asked to see what scope there might be.

‘It’s well documented that there are two places that most positively affect your mental health: the beach and the forest. I suffer delayed complex PTSD, and I’m a champion of men’s mental health problems not becoming problems.

‘So, my idea is to create a Centre of Excellence for ex-service people in the forest, that would allow them to return to work, but in an open capacity. It’s always hard to find work when you’ve got health issues and regular medical appointments. That’s one of the great things about this environment – the trees can generally look after themselves for a day!

DSC_9567‘There are two main areas we’d like to develop in the forest. The first is sports – we’d like to create an off-road hand bike track. Hand bikes are ones that you power with your hands, not your legs. And the forest is also a great place to run yoga sessions.

‘The second is a specific interest of mine: green woodworking. There’s a restored barn in the forest and I’d love to set up some sort of workshop to learn skills, make furniture and use the products from the forest. There have been lots of studies that show that slow, repetitive, creative actions are really good for mental health problems. And there’s lots of interest in promoting sustainable activities like this in the forest.

‘This forest is such an amazing working environment. To be honest, I’ll always come and help out here, even if none of our bigger plans work out!’

 

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Felix Dennis honoured by the Hagge Woods Trust http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/felix-dennis-honoured-at-hagge-wood/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/felix-dennis-honoured-at-hagge-wood/#comments Mon, 15 Jun 2015 09:20:03 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=804 The environmental legacy of Felix Dennis, one of Britai […]

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The environmental legacy of Felix Dennis, one of Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs, poets and planter of trees, was recently honoured at a North Yorkshire community woodland.

Founder of the Heart of England Forest charity, Felix Dennis, who died last year, was a strong supporter of the pioneering Three Hagges Jubilee Wood at Escrick, near York.

As a result the Hagge Woods Trust, which owns the wood, has named a copse, Felix Copse, in his memory.

Alison Hunter, Trustee of the Heart of England Forest charity, visited Felix Copse, accompanied by Head Forester Stephen Coffey to see how the copse – and the woodland – were progressing.boards-1-25

Rosalind Forbes Adam, chair of the Trust, commented: “Felix Dennis liked the idea of our project to develop our wood into a thriving community woodland and supported us in early days. We were honoured by this valuable support and absolutely delighted that Alison and Stephen have strengthened our association by visiting us.”

“Felix Copse is a very special part of our wood, which is planted with small-leaved Lime and English Oak and features our new interpretation board, which is a guide to our wood. Felix’s vision for the Heart of England Forest is to create a new native woodland spanning 30,000 acres in the Midlands and with over 1 million trees already planted the project will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the environmental and ecological landscape for generations to come.” said Mrs Forbes Adam.

Alison Hunter said: “We are thrilled by the progress made by Three Hagges in such a short space of time and especially honoured to have a copse dedicated in the memory of Felix, which he would have loved.  We are busy continuing Felix’s dream of creating the largest native broadleaf forest in England and we are delighted that our association with Three Hagges continues to flourish.”

timeline-3Rosalind Forbes Adam explained: “Our new Interpretation Board explains the careful design of our wood-meadow ecosystem which we believe, with the huge varietyof species that have been introduced, will attract a phenomenal variety of wildlife.”

The wildlife at Three Hagges is being monitored by a team of professional scientists as well as the community under the auspices of Citizen Science.

Altogether there are 12 copses in Three Hagges Jubilee Wood, including Bettys Copse in honour of the tremendous support from Bettys of Harrogate which has enabled the Trust to set up a nursery to extend the wood’s wildflower species; the Jubilee Copse in memory of the Queens Diamond Jubilee in 2012 when the wood was started; and the Peterken Meadow in honour of the charity’s Patron, Professor George Peterken OBE whose thinking has inspired developments at the wood-meadow.

Rosalind Forbes Adam added: “As well as the interpretation board, signs and benches are going up around the wood which have been beautifully crafted by Ben Chester from Thirsk and we are very grateful to the Forestry Commission for 50% funding of these under a WIG (Woodland Improvement Grant) which we were awarded as a Community Woodland”.

“We always welcome volunteers. If you would like to join us please visit haggewoodstrust.org.uk for more detail.”

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Get your coat! http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/get-your-coat/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/get-your-coat/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:19:56 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=310 The post Get your coat! appeared first on The Heart of England Forest.

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 katieWhen her school gave her a spare afternoon a week for work experience, 17-year-old Katie Hillier headed straight to the forest…

‘On Wednesday afternoons, my school allows us to do work experience. I’m interested in biology and conservation and I wanted to do something a bit different.

‘I’ve been walking in the Heart of England Forest for years, and I always knew it was a really fantastic project.

‘For the past few weeks, I’ve been working around the Spernal Estate, taking the tubes off the young trees that have reached a height where they can grow without support.

‘I absolutely love volunteering in the forest. Because I only do it once a week, I get to see a real difference every time I come. It’s amazing how much changes with each visit.

‘The field we were in today was planted with five-year-old trees, but just up the hill is a 600-year-old wood. So it was such a clear contrast, it was amazing.

‘Even before I started volunteering, I knew it was a very special place. You can just tell from the variety of flora and fauna, it’s so natural and wild.

‘I know loads of kids who are at that age when they’re so curious, and they have so many questions to ask. The forest opens up a whole new world.

‘I’m probably quite biased in my enthusiasm! But honestly, I’m really honoured to be a part of the forest.’

If you’d like to volunteer at the forest, please give us a call or send us an email today. Click here for more information about volunteering, including how a regular donation could provide essential tree-planting equipment to help us grow the forest.

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Great news: the hunters are thriving! http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/great-news-the-hunters-are-back/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/great-news-the-hunters-are-back/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:13:38 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=306 The post Great news: the hunters are thriving! appeared first on The Heart of England Forest.

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great-newsAmazingly, last year the chances of spotting a kestrel, or even an owl, were higher than ever before on both the Dorsington and Spernal estates in the Heart of England Forest.

After a mild winter, and with a thriving vole population to keep hungry chicks happy, mid-year reports came in of early laying tawny and barn owls. Sure enough, by October, volunteers had ringed more barn owl chicks than ever before in a single year, making it a contender for one of the best ‘raptor’ seasons on record. In fact, both owl species and the kestrels produced clutches up to 40% above the average.

There are 84 nesting boxes in total across the forest: 28 at Dorsington, 47 at Spernal and 9 at Honeybourne. It’s thought that there are at least 11 barn owl pairs in the forest, 7 tawny owl pairs and as many as 10 kestrel pairs.

As well as ringing the chicks, the British Trust for Ornithology also compiles electronic nest-record cards, as part of their monitoring. They record the distribution and number of nests, trends in egg laying, clutch and brood sizes, and survival rates.

All of this information helps provide an early warning of population changes and the possible reasons – vital information for the conservation of these incredible birds.

Can you help support our rare and beautiful birds of prey?

A monthly donation of just £3 can help us protect and maintain our established woodland, providing natural habitats and supporting the conservation projects for our precious native wildlife.

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Stephen’s seasons http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/stephens-seasons/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/stephens-seasons/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 08:09:12 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=304 The post Stephen’s seasons appeared first on The Heart of England Forest.

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IMG_7452 copy‘Spring and summer are really exciting seasons in the forest. Once the winter planting comes to an end, new life shoots up everywhere. Then, as the days get longer and warmer, the forest is full of colour and noise and the air is thick with floral aromas. ‘In late June, the small-leaved lime flowers appear in their sweet-smelling clusters. Berries swell on shrubs and flowering trees in the hedgerows, and the woodlands are full of butterflies like the Speckled Wood, Marbled White, Gatekeeper and Holly Blue. ‘If you’re really lucky, you can spot kingfishers along streams and the River Avon.’ Stephen Coffey, head forester Heart of England Forest  

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Guided Walks in the Forest http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/guided-walks-in-the-forest/ http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/news/guided-walks-in-the-forest/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:33:38 +0000 http://www.heartofenglandforest.com/?p=300 The post Guided Walks in the Forest appeared first on The Heart of England Forest.

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