Hatfield Forest is a managed landscape, created by centuries of human intervention. We have to work hard to keep the scrub at bay!
Restoring the Marsh
In 2010 we started a project to restore the marsh area running from London Bridge to the top of the lake. The marsh had slowly been taken over by scrub (shrubby tree regrowth), changing the habitat.
Scrub was removed, to restore the marsh and increase biodiversity. Within a year, some dormant species had returned - result!.
The Forest flock of sheep is also being used during the winter to graze the restored area, to help stop growback.
Part of the reed bed is cut, a quarter each year, to maintain a range of heights, to increase the diversity of the habitat.
Clearing scrub from the Gravel Pits
The gravel pit area is an interesting exception to the general London clay geology of the Forest. Historically, gravel was extracted in the 18th century, creating a pit and a series of depressions.
Over the years, the depressions had become valuable microclimates for free-draining soil. Much like the marsh, scrub had begun to take over the this area, obscuring the topographical features, as well as outgrowing a more varied microhbitat. As with the marsh we hope that dormant seeds will bounce back, once the area is cleared.
The clearance has revealed the underlying features and allowed a more interesting habitat to return.
Winning back woodland pasture
We are undertaking a long term project to restore as woodland pasture an area of about 25 ha in northwest corner of the Forest, below Elmans Green.
Read more about this programme using the link at the end.
Maintaining the dam
The dam is a regulated structure and needs to be maintained to appropriate standards. Part of this programme involves an annual clearance in the autumn of the vegetation growing on the earth bank, so that roots cannot grow and damage the structure.
In addition, in 2016, we are undertaking some heavy duty maintenance work on the inside face of the dam, relaying the Essex Blocks protecting this side.