Restoring Woodside Green
Woodside Green lies to the south of Hatfield Forest, next to Wall Wood. It is mainly open pasture, with a few isolated mature trees. In summer, it is used for grazing cattle. Maps from over 100 years ago show there were many more trees, mostly around the margins. We have now secured funding from the People's Postcode Lottery to restore this historic parkland.
An historic parkland
Woodside Green formed part of the original Hallingbury estate which also included nearby Hatfield Forest. It was retained by the Houblon family when the rest of the estate was sold off in 1923 and then given to the National Trust by Major Archer Houblon, in 1935.
Now a 27-hectare area of open grassland, equivalent to the size of around 30 football pitches, Woodside Green is currently home to grazing cattle every summer.
Maps from the late nineteenth century, however, show us that it used to be an area of parkland, visible from Hallingbury Place, with over 150 individual trees, mostly clustered around the edges of the Green, with higher densities in 4 or 5 locations, and used for grazing and timber production. In post-medieval times, this landscape would have been scattered with native trees and home to an abundance of wildlife.
All that now survives is 21 mostly oak and some horse chestnut, mature/veteran trees, north of the track to Woodfold Cottage, and one fine veteran oak pollard south of the track.
Ambitious plans for wildlife
We have ambitious plans to replant this ecologically and historically important parkland habitat with native trees. This will see the return of wildlife to the area, including rare bats, birds and insects, all of which rely on the trees that were found amongst the grazed pasture a century ago.
Restoring and protecting
New funding from the People's Postcode Lottery will allow us to restore 20 hectares of historic parkland by planting 120 trees, including mostly oak, hornbeam and field maple, as well as small numbers of hawthorn, blackthorn, wild cherry, crab apple, black poplar, small and large leaved lime, beech and whitebeam.
We hope to take delivery of the trees in Novemeber 2018, for planting in December, ground conditions permitting. The trees will be planted sufficiently far away from roads and buildings to comply with modern standards.
The trees will begin as delicate saplings, so in order to ensure each a vibrant and healthy future, we’ll be investing in vital protective tree guards. Our dedicated team of rangers and conservation volunteers will regularly check the trees’ condition, as well as weeding and mulching around their growing trunks.
Project Update December 2018
The trees were planted at the end of November and the beginning of December 2018. The time consuming aspect was the construction and erection of the tree guards, rather than the planting itself.
Species planted and numbers of each were 3 hawthorn, 3 blackthorn, 3 wild cherry, 3 crab apple, 4 black poplar, 4 small leaved lime, 4 large leaved lime, 4 beech , 4 whitebeam, 8 sessile oak, 20 field maple, 20 pedunculate oak and 20 hornbeam.
This is probably a wider range of species than were grown on the Green in the past, but all are native to the locality.
We are minded nowadays that a tree pest or disease can come along, target and affect one tree species and eradicate it, such as Dutch elm disease or ash die back. There are several species not represented in this project because of this risk.
The best practice guidance when designing a planting scheme nowadays is to feature as many species as are native and appropriate to the site as possible, and to ensure that the less frequent minority species, such as the cherry, lime and beech, are represented as a precaution, so that there is more diversity and more chance of certain species’ survival in the long-term.
A landscape coming to life
Over time, we will see the slow restoration of this historic landscape, revitalising one of the largest grazed commons in Essex.
An important neighbour
Woodside Green is very close to Hatfield Forest, which is one of the finest examples of an almost intact medieval hunting forest. The forest is internationally recognised as a National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the ancient trees and the wealth of wildlife that calls it home.
By restoring Woodside Green we will also be creating crucial space for the wildlife at neighbouring Hatfield Forest to roam.
Lottery players preserving UK wildlife
The Woodside Green project has been made possible thanks to £28,000 of a total £750,000 grant generously provided to the National Trust by players of the People's Postcode Lottery.
The full grant will fund conservation projects across the UK, creating wildlife rich places to support bats, butterflies and birds.
Our commitment to nature
The Woodside Green project is part of our commitment to work with our tenants and partners to reverse the alarming decline in UK wildlife. We aim to restore 25,000 hectares of wildlife-rich habitats by 2025.