Jude Hassall from Lantern visited Jane Devlin’s woodland near Grayswood, Surrey as part of the Good Woods project. Jane and her husband have owned the woodland for a year now, and the management plan is to be submitted to the Forestry Commission shortly, so they were delighted to have received expert advice from Sylva and the Good Woods project to help shape the plan. Laurence Crow was on hand as the Good Woods advisor to give Jane some help to shape the vision she has for the wood.
The site is a PAWS (Planted Ancient Woodland Site) that Jane is keen to restore to a mixed deciduous native woodland – or at least start the long haul to transform it. It is an undulating site, steep in parts, with some challenges in terms of ongoing management access and extraction of standing timber. The conifers are a mix of Larch, Norway Spruce and Western Hemlock. The plantation is overstood and many trees will need harvesting in the next few years. In a way this is good news, since there is potential for some income that will be used to implement the management plan.
Evidence can be seen within the woodland of its original composition with some majestic oaks struggling for space within the dense conifer plantation. Several large trees, future veterans, grow along the margins of the wood, while occasional stumps of former oak, ash and beech trees remain throughout. During the visit it was clear to see where Jane had begun working to remove some of the dead or dangerous trees. Clearings created by wind-blown trees showed how opening the canopy had created an opportunity for native self-sown trees, with beech, hawthorn and hazel doing particularly well.
Some mysterious pits within the woodland were spotted that were thought to be evidence of ironstone ‘scrapings’ at some point in its past, which will now be noted down and the best examples protected during the coming work.
Laurence was able to give detailed advice on how to enhance the habitat around the stream that runs through the woodland at the bottom of a steep escarpment through the creation of scallop bays. This will allow greater levels of ground cover and woodland plants to emerge.
The owner was keen to begin get her management plan approved and to begin restoration work in the woodland. Jane already has local volunteers who wish to work in the woodland and help with the restoration and will reward them with firewood under a ‘logs for labour’ model.
There are other activities planned too: Jane and her husband have an adventure race called “Run-Forest-Run” ( The test event is in November 2013, with the first open event in March 2014.)
Eventually, through a combination of felling and thinning, space will be made within the woodland for a reintroduction of local species back to the site. Jane is really keen to get going with the work and thanks to the help from Good Woods will be polishing off her plan and starting work as soon as she receives approval.
The Good Woods project is a novel project aiming to breathe new life into UK woodlands. The project—a joint initiative between DIY giant B&Q, sustainability charity BioRegional and forestry charity The Sylva Foundation—will revive woodlands to provide environmental, social and economic benefits. For more information contact Amy Hammond: firstname.lastname@example.org