Our work

Medieval Forest - Modern Techniques

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Our red polls

From early May to late October, the plains are grazed by our red poll cattle. They are natural lawnmowers, helping to keep down scrubby plants, and so encouraging the growth of native wildflowers.

Woodland coppices

Our volunteers continue the ancient management technique of coppicing to encourage new growth. They have been working over the winter cutting coppice poles in Elgin Coppice and protecting the stumps.

Crayfish project

The lake has a population of signal crayfish. This is a non-native, invasive species. We are undertaking a wide ranging study to assess their ecological impact, including trapping, removal and study.

Our species survey work


Fallow deer grazing at Hatfield Forest © Richard Daniel

Over the last decade we have been carefully monitoring our deer population.

Students work with our volunteers using a variety of different methods to estimate the deer populations.

Thermal imaging cameras, dung counts along a transect and counting the number of paths leading into the coppices, all help us to determine how best we can manage the health of the herd.


Hogweed Bonking Beetles © Richard Daniel

Beetles are one of the many invertebrate species we monitor in the Forest.

We have a number of Red Data Book species which are internationally rare or endangered.

By tracking changes in their numbers we can identify the effects of changes in climate, pollution and habitat robustness.


Enjoy the array of stunning butterflies at Crom © Stuart Jennings

We have been carrying out butterfly surveys since 2005. Our volunteers learn to identify the different species and familiarise themselves with the survey routes. They walk these routes every day (weather-permitting) and record what they see.

During the 2012 survey period we saw 1,686 butterflies on the transect. A recent arrival is the beautiful silver-washed fritillary.

Our amazing pollards

Hatfield Forest has over 850 veteran pollard trees, each with its own management plan. The aim is to keep the trees alive as long as possible. Once dead, we try to keep the trees standing by turning them into monoliths, by removing all the branches. Standing deadwood is a rarer and therefore more valuable habitat than fallen deadwood. Once fallen, deadwood rots quickly and so the habitat is lost.