Foxbury heathland restoration project
We acquired the 350 acre site in 2005, at which time it was a conifer plantation, with an aim to restore the site back to lowland heathland and reconnect it back with the rest of the New Forest.
Since then we have removed a large majority of the pine trees and invasive rhododendron, leaving the native broad leafed trees, and allowing the gorse, heather, wild flowers, native trees and shrubs to re-establish.
Along with establishing lowland heathland, we are also planting 20,000 trees on the site, to create native broadleaved woodland and ensure a sustainable future for Foxbury.
As well as tree planting, currently our management work revolves around continued removal of invasive species, such as rhododendron and pine saplings, and control of invasive birch saplings.
We also graze the site with a herd of belted galloway cattle and three New Forest ponies to keep the grasses and saplings at bay.
So far we have had great success with heathland wildlife occupying the site, including breeding pairs of nightjar and dartford warbler, reptiles such as common lizards and adders, as well as a diverse array of insects, such as green hairstreak butterflies.
First and foremost, Foxbury is a site of conservation, and access remains by invitation only. However, we regularly run our own events and the site can also be hired.
The site has over 4 miles of wide all-weather gravel trackways, meaning these activities don’t cause any detriment to the establishing lowland heathland habitats or wildlife.
We are also now part of an exciting new Heritage Lottery Fund project in the New Forest, called “Our Past, Our Future”.
The National Trust has been given a grant to fund its woodland planting and improve infrastructure within Foxbury to facilitate educational and recreational activities, with an aim to connect with local communities and take pressures off the open forest.