Wildlife restoration success in Leicestershire

Wildlife restorationRestoration work in Owston Wood, near Oakham in Leicestershire has transformed the area, in one of the Forestry Commission's nationwide successes in England in the upkeep of wildlife areas - Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

An ancient woodland site with excessive and unwelcome growth of conifers, it had also suffered from deer and sheep damage. The sheep were coming in from the surrounding fields because the fencing needed to be improved.

Gradually, new stock-proof fencing has been built all the way round the site. And all conifers have now been removed, except for one small pocket, which is due to come out later this year. The delay in removing these has been due to inaccessibility.

Paul Malcolm, Planning Forester and Ecologist for the area, who has played a lead role in the restoration, explained:

"To overcome this we have worked closely with neighbouring landowners to use their land as an access route. It is a long distance for machines to travel, and we want them to go over as little woodland ground as possible, to avoid compaction damage."

"In the woodland itself, brash mats were laid to avoid damage to vegetation and soil structure."

"The area is very wet in winter, and as it cannot be worked during the spring and summer due to the flowering plants and nesting birds, this leaves a very small window when tree felling can take place."

"Pathways through the woods have been widened, too, to allow more light to encourage plant growth."

"Benefits of the work are already in evidence with sheep and deer under control, native trees growing and a return of many of the plants that were there in the 1976 survey."

Overall, Owston has been given a new lease of life with wildlife, trees and plants all reaping the reward of all the planning and hard work that has been invested in to the project.