Top Award goes to “Lot 3 Wood” which has transformed an arable field into a native broadleaved woodland

The Small and Farm Woodland Excellence in Forestry Awards 2019 include a small woodland on what was previously arable land, an ancient semi natural woodland and a wood known for its bluebells.

By Becky Wilkinson · December 26, 2019

1. Lot 3 Wood, Riki Therivel, Hinksey Hill, Oxford

Lot 3 Wood was bought 16 years ago as an arable field.  It is now a native broadleaved woodland managed for the production of high quality timber and coppice, landscape, access, “education, biodiversity and fun” (in the words of the owner, who does much of the work in the woodland herself).  Revenue from the sale of coppice products covers the cost of ride mowing and woodland insurance, and thinning is done by felling marked trees in woodfuel allotments let to local people.

Neighbours and staff of local businesses walk and picnic in the woodland, and can enjoy views of the dreaming spires of Oxford from and through its rides and open spaces.  The ground flora under the canopy is developing, butterflies use the open spaces, and there are lots of birds.  Conservation volunteers and Forest School groups have worked and learnt in the woodland, and it is now used by pupils of a local school for severely disadvantaged children.

Riki Therivel said “The former Oxfordshire Woodland Project was instrumental in planning the woodland, and many people have helped to manage it, including ‘woodfuel allotment’ holders and people who help to coppice the hazel.  The management has really been a group project.  It has been lovely to see the area develop from a corn field to a proper woodland with orchids, bluebells, foxes and some magnificent slugs.”

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 2. Great Groves Wood, Great Groves Settlement, Brickendon, Ware, Hertfordshire

This mostly ancient semi-natural woodland is managed for conservation of historical features, production of timber, firewood and coppice, enhancement of biodiversity, and education.  Three generations of the owners’ family do most of the work in the woodland, including felling mature oak and ash (sold for timber), thinning for firewood (used by the family and sold to others) and coppicing (for local markets and a “house of straw” in Scotland).  Records of work done, weather conditions and ecological features, such as the presence of birds and flowering times of plants, have been kept for many years.  Education has become particularly important in the last ten years, and the woodland is now used for bushcraft courses and children’s activity days, and by small groups of special-needs children and adults.

For Great Groves, Joan and Marcus Dixon said: “Great Groves Wood is a hornbeam wood with oak and ash standards  and one of the largest collections of wild service trees in Hertfordshire. We feel very priviledged to be it’s custodians and are proud to care for it and to help to pass it on to future generations.

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 3.Certificate of Merit: Beatons Wood, John McCutchan, Arlington, East Sussex

Beaton’s Wood is famous for its bluebells; since 1972, 74 charities have benefitted from the owner’s generosity in opening the woodland to visitors during the bluebell season, and between them have raised over £1 million for charity.  Management of the woodland is necessarily focused on creating optimum conditions for bluebells (and wood anemones), recreation and education, but biodiversity is also important – fallen and standing deadwood and piles of lop and top are kept to encourage wildlife, and bird boxes are maintained by a local naturalist – and the woodland is financially self-sustaining.

For Beaton’s Wood, John McCutchan, on behalf of Bluebell Walk Partnership said: “ We are honoured to receive the Certificate of Merit, which publicises the Arlington Bluebell Walk and the many charities involved, while our visitors have the opportunity to learn a little more about the importance of woodland management.”

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 Our thanks to Award sponsors

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