Sherrardspark Wood Wardens comment on woodland management

Wood Wardens address Sherrardspark Wood management issues in a letter published in Welwyn Hatfield Times, July 9 2014. 

SIR - Peter Oakenfull's Nature Watch article in the Times magazine (July 1 2014) is very critical of management work carried out in Sherrardspark Wood.

The Sherrardspark Wood Wardens are firm supporters of the works (see our website for our management evaluation). In our view the benefits of the works are now really starting to show with massive regeneration of oaks and other tree species and dense bramble and scrub cover developing where more light now reaches the woodland floor. It is simply not the case as Peter claims in his article that the works have destroyed the bramble and scrub cover - the opposite is true. Our monitoring is also showing that the wildlife is already benefiting in many ways.

The wood owes its protection to its designation by Natural England as an oak/hornbeam woodland. In fact, in a national review of woodlands, Sherrardspark Wood was described as containing 'the finest stand of sessile oak in southeast England'. The management works are designed to safeguard the magnificent oaks for which the wood is so famous whilst allowing enough space and light for the next generation of oaks to become established to be able to take over when the big old trees finally succumb. The removal of some of the sweet chestnuts will free up space for the oaks around them and encourage more tree regeneration. It is a fact that, compared with oak,  sweet chestnut supports low numbers and biomass of invertebrates but is also casts a dense shade and produces a very acid leaf litter both of which suppress the regeneration of other species. In our view the removal of some sweet chestnuts, magnificent though they are, is entirely justified by the overall benefits it will bring to the wood.

Executive Committee, Sherrardspark Wood Wardens Society



Regeneration after sweet chestnut clearance: photo taken in August 2014