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Woodland management at Crickley Hill

Woodland around Crickley Hill, country park land near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
A woodland path at Crickley Hill | © National Trust Images / Nick Meers

At the top of Crickley Hill is an area of woodland known as The Scrubbs. A site of Special Scientific Interest, the woodland is a mix of beech, oak and ash trees, some of which have a history dating back 200 years. The rangers at Crickley Hill have set out a 10-year woodland management plan that will improve conditions for wildlife and allow trees and habitats to flourish.

Ancient and veteran trees

Specialist tree surveyors have been helping us record the status and quality of the trees in The Scrubbs. Together we’ve highlighted 35 trees that are ‘ancient’, ‘veteran’ or ‘notable’ and need special attention to ensure their long-term health. Combined with surveys undertaken in previous years, there are now a total of 74 trees classed as ancient, veteran or notable across the area.

Ancient trees are not a specific age, but they are particularly old compared to other trees of the same species and might be gnarled, knobbly or hollow with particularly thick trunks.

A large tree in the foreground framing a view of winter trees and green countryside at Crickley Hill
Winter trees at Crickley Hill | © National Trust Images / Chris Lacey

Veteran trees show many of the same characteristics but are not as old, whilst notable trees have local significance because of features such as their size.

These trees are also important for the fungi, deadwood, invertebrates and lichen that they support.

Fallen deadwood plays an important role in protecting the roots of some of the magnificent trees and it’s important that it stays in place. That’s why we discourage den building in the woods.

Rare beetles

Deadwood is a haven for beetles on Crickley Hill, some of which are nationally scarce. Plants such as dog’s mercury and sanicle thrive where the woodland ground is undisturbed. Fungus like scarlet elf cup also loves to grow on deadwood and there are hundreds of different species recorded across the site.

However, some important species have already disappeared or retreated from areas where they should be thriving. That’s why the 10-year plan is such an important part of the mission to protect Crickley Hill’s woodland and wildlife for everyone, for ever.

Young buzzard perched in an ash tree in Markstone Field near Hambledon Hill, North Dorset
A young buzzard perched in an ash tree | © National Trust Images / Clive Whitbourn

Ash dieback

Ash dieback is a fungal disease that's affecting many woodlands, parks and gardens across the country. We're working to manage the disease in the woodland at Crickley Hill.

There are an estimated 80 million ash trees in the UK, helping to shape some of the best loved landscapes. They make up a third of the entire tree population we care for. It's thought that over 90% of these trees will be lost to the disease, having a devastating impact on the countryside and biodiversity of woodlands.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

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