In September we were delighted to welcome a smiley bunch of Dennis Publishing volunteers to our site at Coughton Park. We are excited to announce that this site has recently been designated as a Local Wildlife Site (LWS), a nationally recognised designation to indicate its importance for biodiversity. Centred around the Heart of England Forest tree nursery, it is also home to some locally rare flora and fauna.
The woodland here is one of the only sites in Warwickshire where heather naturally, and we have also recorded multiple sitings of a rare woodland butterfly, the silver-washed fritillary.
We split the volunteers into three teams who quickly got to work clearing and chopping to help encourage and maximise the survival of heather and other woodland margin shrubs which will attract our fluttery friends.
Take a look at how they got on…
Team 1 looked hard to identify heather plants. Usually found in the woodland margins, on the edge of footpaths, they scraped mud and cleared weeds to help encourage seed spreading.
‘I really enjoyed my time volunteering at the forest when I went up with the Dennis team. It was great to learn more about the Heart of England Forest, understand the great impact the charity is having in the local area and see first-hand the valuable opportunity they are giving people like me to also be a part of that. It was also really nice to breathe some fresh air and only see greenery for miles and miles. Truly enjoyed the experience and would love to do it again’
Team 2 used slashers to remove bracken which had crept onto and grown through the footpaths, some of which was at head height!
‘I very much enjoyed doing my small bit to help the Heart of England Forest on the charity’s admirable effort in making the UK a much greener and healthier place, and recommend that everyone in the Dennis family pay a visit to the forest. A lot of office stress was unleashed upon some unfortunate nettles and bracken – but all for the greater good!’
Team 3 used loppers to clear silver birch which had naturally regenerated on paths and unfortunately prevents light getting to heather and smaller shrubs in amongst the woodland margins.
‘I had a great time at the Heart of England Forest volunteer day. Our group was tasked with clearing and chopping down the small silver birch trees. It was hard work, but satisfying to see how much we cleared in a short time. Great fun’
“Volunteering is absolutely essential to the Heart of England Forest and without supporters such as the Dennis teams above we simply could not do the work that we do. Important at all levels of the charity, volunteers provide crucial support which helps drive our mission forwards. We always aim to make team volunteer days as fun as possible, and there are genuine health and wellbeing benefits associated with being outdoors and amongst nature,” comments our CEO, Beth Brook.
Our 2016/17 tree planting season saw the planting of 185,000 native broadleaf saplings at Coughton Fields Farm, land which we were able to purchase back in December 2015 thanks to Dennis’ incredible support. As we approach our 2017/18 tree planting season we plan to plant 140,000 trees across the remainder of Coughton Fields Farm, and on an entirely new site at Sheriffs Lench in Worcestershire. Purchased in October 2016, Sheriffs Lench is a new and beautiful site spanning 429 acres, where the majority of our upcoming planting will take place.