Management in recent years has concentrated on increasing the important ‘woodland edge habitat’ by creating glades, and widening the rides to give a biennially mown floral verge of around 2 metres, which has proven very successful. Whilst other areas are left to naturally regenerate.
The one softwood compartment of Scots pines was thinned by around 30% in late summer 2011, and the area is transformed. Light now pours in, and butterflies are there for the first time in many years. Brambles are springing up everywhere, and there is a fine display of broad buckler ferns, with wide runs of young foxgloves that will be in flower in 2013, where the Forwarder left deeply disturbed tracks.
In the 1990s a number of compartments were cleared of birch, and these have now matured well, with many young oaks having recently been thinned to improve their crowns. The remaining compartments that still have - now ageing and falling down - birch are to be cleared over the next few years. It is hoped that future clearance will enable a by-product in the form of firewood to be processed and sold which will help finance other projects such as rhododendron ponticum clearance.
This latter work has been started by some very determined volunteers, who have focused efforts on clearing large areas from along the ‘Rhododendron Walk’ and down to the stream that runs through site from Burghclere Common. These works will help to open up windows around some of the sites finer trees -an old Scots Pine with a 5½ meter girth and a Wellingtonia. The other non-native ‘intruder’ is sycamore, and whilst one compartment has about 65% of its trees as sycamore, other areas are being controlled quite successfully, creating glades at the time of removal.
There is an active group of volunteers, who you may see at any time of the year, with the more disruptive work only carried out either side of the nesting season.
If you would like to become a volunteer worker, please email email@example.com for details.
Due to the nature of some of the works taking place on Herbert Plantation dog walkers are advised to bring leads in order to keep close control of their dogs during felling.
Photos: Neill Bruce