The Larches – November 2023
Over the last few weeks, work has taken place to restore an area of ancient semi-natural woodland at The Larches at Sherfield Park. This will create a very noticeable change in the appearance of the site.
The Larches woodland, like much of the other natural woodland in this area, is considered to be ancient semi-natural woodland, meaning the land has had continual tree cover since at least the 1600s, creating rich and complex habitats that have evolved to support a wide variety of unique species
The reason the work is being carried out
After the Second World War, the Larches was cleared of its natural tree cover and replanted with beech and conifer as a timber crop. This practice was known as Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites (PAWS).
Unfortunately, much of the current timber crop is at the end of its life span and in places is in poor condition. The plantation trees have become increasingly unstable creating a risk to property and public safety. This has been worsened by Ash Die Back which is killing the mature ash on site.
Without this work and, as the trees have all now reached the end of their lifespan, there would be an increased risk of trees falling and causing damage or possible injury.
Work being carried out
The work involves clearing all of the planted timber and replanting with a mix of native species that will be more representative of those found in ancient woodland. As the trees are all of a single age and are not strong enough to support themselves without the protection of other trees around them, it is not practical in this instance to take a phased approach to removal.
Restoration of Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites is important as it improves woodland biodiversity and will, in time, support the recovery of wildflowers, birds, mammals and insects that were displaced when the natural tree cover was removed.
More information on the importance of Plantation on Ancient Woodland Sites restoration is available from the Woodland Trust Ancient Woodland Restoration – Woodland Trust
Who is doing the work and how long will it take?
As part of their planning obligations for the development of Sherfield Park, following months of ecological surveys to avoid disturbance to bats, dormice or nesting birds, Croudace is now starting the first phase of this programme of restoration. This involves clear felling beech, ash and conifer from The Larches which will be replanted with a range of deciduous tree species and shrubs by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council later this winter.
Following the felling phase of work, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council will continue to lead on the restoration of The Larches in additional phases and careful, on-going monitoring will take place to record the recovery of these woodlands.
Getting involved in nature conservation in this area
If you are interested in supporting the Sherfield Park Ancient Woodland Restoration Project, getting involved with habitat management around Sherfield Park or learning more about local wildlife please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to express an interest in being part of a local community wildlife group.
The Parish Council will be actively taking part in working with BDBC to discuss wildlife projects for Sherfield Park, which is a great opportunity for all the residents and children to engage with.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have created a webpage on the council’s website providing members of the public with more information about this important scheme. You can view the webpage at Sherfield Park ancient woodland restoration project (basingstoke.gov.uk)