Autumn on the estate

Autumn fungi on the estate

In summer, while birds are nesting, it's important to leave them in peace. Come September, the birds have finished breeding and the ranger team can get to work on jobs like holly clearance, ride widening, scrub bashing and halo releasing. Read on to find out what these jobs are and why the team do them.

Rides

One autumn job is ride widening. Rides are tracks or paths that go through woodland. These areas are important for wildlife; they allow sunlight to reach the woodland floor, so they're often rich in wildflowers and wildlife.

If left unmanaged these rides can close over, so we go around on a rotation, keeping the rides open so in the summer they can be filled with wildflowers, butterflies and other insects.

Rides in summer can be filled with wildflowers, such as foxgloves
Purple foxgloves on the estate at Polesden Lacey
Rides in summer can be filled with wildflowers, such as foxgloves

Holly 

In November we begin clearing holly. In some areas of Ranmore, holly is becoming a problem because it is outgrowing the other trees; in these areas the woodland becomes dark and tangled.

This can be good for some species, like the marsh tit, so we keep some of it unmanaged. However leaving it all unmanaged can negatively affect other species like the hawfinch, which likes to feed on the ground under beech trees.

Thick holly will shade out the woodland floor also prevent tree saplings from growing through, preventing the next generation of trees from growing.

Every year the ranger team clears away areas of holly to allow a mixture of different habitats to exist throughout the woodland.

Scrub bashing

The areas of South Wood and Stony Rock is more open and is being restored to wood pasture. Wood pasture is a really important habitat with open grown trees and species-rich grassland underneath.

To open these areas up we have to clear some areas of scrub. We do this by releasing the halos - the area directly under the tree canopy. We do this slowly to protect the tree.

So, for the next 5 years, we'll slowly be clearing the scrub and other vegetation under the trees, until they are once again open grown parkland trees.

Our volunteers

Our ranger team coudn't manage the 1,400 acre estate without the amazing work of our team of volunteers. If you'd like to find out more about how to join our team of volunteers, why not get in touch. Email PLVolunteering@nationaltrust.org.uk