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Introducing the Woodmeadow Project at Nymans

A spring view of the woodland at Nymans
A spring view of the woodland at Nymans | © National Trust Images / Laurence Perry

The Woodmeadow Project is a long term project that will positively change the Wealden landscape at Nymans. Over the next two years, with funding from National Highways, we’ll be creating a woodmeadow habitat with a diverse, rich mosaic of trees and grassland covering an area of 114ha.

Getting Ready

During 2023 a project team of experts produced a feasibility report to help us understand the impact of plans for farmland returning to management by the National Trust at Nymans.

Four potential options were considered for the project, with the preferred option having a net effect on biodiversity that would be overwhelmingly beneficial . There would be an opportunity to make a significant landscape-scale contribution to biodiversity, with a robust programme of ecological monitoring demonstrating the benefits for species, habitats, carbon, water, and soil quality.

Our Ambition

We want to restore the natural landscape to be healthier and beautiful. As part of the National Trust Land, Outdoors and Nature strategy, we want a 'Bigger, Better' and more 'Joined Up' landscape. At Nymans we want to contribute 100 ha of priority habitat to the organisational aim of 25,000ha ('Bigger'). We want to reverse the decline in internationally threatened woodland wildflower and lowland meadow species at Nymans through habitat restoration, and make sure that our water and soils are protected ('Better'). At the same time we want to make sure that connectivity across the landscape is as good as it possibly can be, through habitat creation whether through planting new trees to join woodlands together, or reinstating hedgerows that act as small mammal corridors or that aid bats to navigate the landscape (Joined Up). We will do our part for climate action and mitigate against climate change through carbon rich habitat creation.

The exciting Woodmeadow project provides an opportunity for us to deliver on all of these ambitions.

Habitat creation

We will be creating new habitats including new woodlands in-field copses, floristically diverse meadows, new hedgerows, create new orchards and ponds and enhance the existing parkland. Through this management we will maximise our 'ecotones' or areas where there is a crossover between habitats, rich in biodiversity. Livestock will play a vital role in the success of this project, with stock grazing helping to create and manage meadows and grasslands. We’re also going to be collecting and propagating woodland wildflower seed to plant alongside new tree planting


A 'woodmeadows' approach delivers high quality habitat restoration.

It takes inspiration from eastern European ‘woodmeadows’ which are the most floristically diverse habitats in Europe. This approach will deliver both ‘woods’ and ‘meadows’ using natural regeneration and hands-on techniques. To achieve this, we will combine traditional woodland and meadow restoration techniques with local horticultural expertise and managed hay-cutting and grazing to deliver a mix of plant-rich habitats across the whole estate, akin to those found historically in the High Weald.

Livestock will play a vital role in the success of this project, with stock grazing helping to champion nature friendly farming.

Priority habitat creation and increasing biodiversity is at the forefront of our vision. We will be creating a wide range of habitats from new woodlands and reinstating historic hedgerows to planting in-field copses, new orchards and excavating new ponds. These elements will in turn create an abundance of ‘ecotones’, areas of transition between habitats’ biological communities, known for being rich in biodiversity. In places, we will be working to restore habitats to be healthier through changes in management. We will restore existing hedgerows, grasslands and parkland. We’re going to be collecting and propagating woodland wildflower seeds to plant alongside some of the new trees as part of a pioneering trial.

Throughout the duration of the project, we will be surveying and monitoring the sites flora, fauna and soils to see how the land evolves over time, influencing our ongoing management techniques.

Wild Cherry in spring at Nymans
Wild Cherry in spring at Nymans | © National Trust Images / Laurence Perry

Woodmeadow project - timeline & blog

October 2023 - March 2024

Planting and Introduction of Livestock.

During the winter of 2023/24 we've hit the ground running. We've planted 740m of new species rich hedgerow, including field maple, hawthorn, guelder rose, hornbeam and dog rose. In places we’ve reinstated traditional hedgerow management and re-pollarded oaks. New stock fencing has been installed to protect saplings from nibbling livestock, deer, rabbits and voles. Where we've replanted hedgerows, we've used the leftover brash to reinstate into the hedge line as a dead hedge providing deadwood for invertebrates, cover for small mammals and nesting habitats for birds, all while helping to protect the young trees. Our orchard restorations have taken steps forward with the planting of 32 local variety apple trees. It's been a hugely positive step to reintroduce fruit trees to our landscape. Beneficial as a nectar source to pollinators, it's a valuable habitat too.  

Introducing Cattle.

We've now introduced cattle onto the farmland, an exciting moment and an opportunity to graze the land in a different way. While we have retained sheep in places, the cattle approach grazing in a slightly different way. Sheep tend to keep grass short and pretty uniform and will nibble off the flowering heads of wildflowers preventing them from setting seed. Cattle on the other hand are more of a general grazer and won’t make a beeline for flowering plants. They graze at a lower intensity, allowing longer grasses to form tussocks and maintain more height variation, which is valuable habitat for invertebrates and small mammals.

One positive wildlife change we've already noted in two areas of the site is the return and nesting of skylarks.







Volunteer planting hedges as part of the woodmeadow project.
Hedgerow planting at Nymans | © National Trust / Laurence Perry
Cattle grazing in a field in early spring
Conservation grazing at Nymans | © National Trust / Laurence Perry
Exploring Comer Woods at Dudmaston, Shropshire

Explore Nymans’ woodlands and wider estate 

Nymans’ ancient woodland is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), nature reserve and home to a variety of plants and wildlife. Here’s what to look out for.

Lush foliage lining a pathway leading to a building at the property

Volunteering at Nymans 

Discover how you can volunteer and become part of the story of the stunning house and gardens at Nymans in West Sussex. From gardening to piano playing and baking to bookshops, there's plenty to get involved with. To chat with us about volunteering, call 01444 405255 or email

Varied pine trees in the Pinetum with pampas grass in the foreground at Nymans, West Sussex

Woodland walk at Nymans 

After visiting the garden at Nymans take a walk around the surrounding estate, an area of the High Weald and a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

DistanceMiles: 2.5 (km: 4) to miles: 2.1 (km: 3.36)