Urban Ranger project: Improving Willow Wood for wildife

Morden Urban Rangers working in Willow Wood

Willow Wood is a secondary woodland, a woodland that has developed in the last 35 years naturally. This winter Morden Urban Rangers helped develop a management plan and secure funding to improve the area for wildlife and visitors.

The site used to be a field, and over the last 35 years, through natural succession, it has changed from a field with a few trees to a closed canopy woodland. This meant there was little diversity in the under storey, limiting the wildlife the woodland could support.

Urban Rangers' work in Willow Wood

The 25-year Estate Management Plan identified Willow Wood as one of the areas to improve for biodiversity. In winter 2018 Morden Urban Rangers, under the guidance of our Ranger, developed a management plan and successfully secured funding for work to make the woodland more diverse and increase its capacity to support wildlife as well as improving visitor access.

At the same time the National Trust secured 400 free trees from the Woodland Trust, which has helped improve diversity of the under storey through planting of species like blackthorn, cherry, hazels and hawthorns.

The species planted in Willow Wood will also help make the Garden and Outdoor team more sustainable by providing the team with materials for use in the rose garden and wider park. The visitor access has been improved by laying woodchip created from trees coppiced and thinned in this year’s work programme.

" The work we are doing now will influence the way the wood will be used, sustainability and how the wood will look in the future. I hope the work we are doing as Urban Rangers will leave a long term impact on Morden Hall Park that can be used by all. "
- Catherine, Urban Ranger

Future work

In 2019 the Outdoor team will plant sweet chestnuts, which are good for wildlife as it produces nuts for wildlife to eat, and thin out some larger trees to allow light to reach smaller trees and create glades, which are important habitats for butterflies.

Morden Urban Rangers will be learning to use strimmers to maintain public access created through this project.