Working towards 'favourable status'
In order to fulfil the requirements of Natural England, the government’s advisory agency in the care of SSSI sites, Bickerton Hill needs to obtain ‘favourable’ site status. This means that roughly around 50% of the site is returned to lowland heath condition.
In order to move towards achieving ‘favourable status’, Natural England has directed that a further tree felling programme take place on the hill.
The felling programme will encompass trees which self-seeded between the end of the Second World War and the present day. Some of these are in areas previously worked on, others are un-restored areas.
There are no ancient trees involved, and blocks of woodland will be retained as well as some trees situated within other areas - these are typically, oaks, rowans and holly - which will provide landscape diversity and interest.
Felling will take place adjacent to those areas cleared under previous schemes thereby reducing the fragmentation of the heathland. Much of the SSSI (around 50%) will still remain as woodland, the linking of currently fragmented heathland areas will increase opportunities for wildlife and plant species to migrate and develop across the site.
The greater the connections between areas of heath, the greater the opportunity for wildlife, flora and fauna to be successful in colonising the heathland landscape.
All felling work is licensed by the Forestry Commission under its Open Habitats Policy.