Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Holly Hayes woodlands management plan given seal of approval

The following press release has been issued by Friends of Holly Hayes Wood:

Friends of Holly Hayes Woods are delighted that their Woodland Management Plan has received the thumbs up from various agencies, including the Forestry Commission, National Forest Company, Natural England and Leicestershire County Council.

The group – all volunteers, have worked with all these agencies to produce a 20 year detailed Woodland Management plan to ensure the woods are receiving the best possible care – protecting the trees, flora and wildlife in the 65 acre site.

All the agencies will give on-going advice and regular monitoring visits.

The group employ a professional Woodsman, Tony Smith, to oversee the work, assisted by young trainees learning forestry skills. He said "I am delighted to have this approved plan in place. Whilst I have extensive experience and qualifications in forestry and conservation, it is so valuable to have this wealth of expertise on the end of a phone or regularly visiting the woodland."

The training is carried out in partnership with Whitwick Community Enterprises, and their Training Director – Rhonda Dean – said "The woodland management plan makes life so easy. We always worried about balancing training courses with the needs of the woodland, but now it is so simple. We match training courses to the plan, and then we know that the tasks carried out by our trainees are exactly what the woods needs at that time."

Part of the site is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest so Natural England have statutory duties to oversee the management there. They have included the woods in their Higher Level Stewardship scheme, which provides funding for work carried out under their advice.

The first task required by Natural England is to fence of the area with the most rare plants and wildlife. Small parts of the area will then be closed off occasionally to allow these rare species to thrive, but these occasions will be minimal, and the vast majority of the woodland will remain open throughout the year.

Volunteer Doreen Cridland said "The woodland is there for the community, that is why we raised the money to buy it in the first place, to save it from development. However we do need to balance that with preserving rare species, so occasionally small areas will be closed, but the main site will always be open."

The group are working on providing boards and signs to explain their management scheme to visitors, and Natural England have offered to fund those. However temporary signs erected for the same purpose have been consistently torn down, so the group are now considering a more permanent solution.

Friends of Holly Hayes Wood is a Voluntary Community Group operating in Whitwick – North West Leicestershire. In 2008 they purchased Holly Hayes Woods, from the local quarrying company. The aims of the group is to provide a community woodland in perpetuity and to provide training opportunities in land management and conservation. The group is made up totally of volunteers. In addition there is a community of friends, local people who are interested in the work.

The site is 65 Acres, and as well as the ancient woodland, it has a meadow area designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Rare species found in the area includes creeping willow, newts and several species of insect and butterfly.

On acquisition of the woods the first task was clearing rubbish, over 200 black bags and two lorry loads of scrap metal were removed in the first year. The area now has paths, access gates, and regular maintenance to ensure the community can enjoy visits there.

Further details please contact the Chairman of Friends of Holly Hayes Woods, Peter Christian on chairman@friendsofhollyhayeswoods.org

Holly Hayes Woods are an issue of great debate in Whitwick right now. What's your view? Feel free to leave a comment.


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