A rough guide to conservation work on the Edge

A ranger hard at work managing the woodland at Wenlock Edge

Our conservation work on Wenlock Edge happens all year round.

We have a fantastic team of staff and volunteers working to enhance the special woodland and grassland habitats of Wenlock Edge and to monitor the wildlife here.

The woodland is actively managed and has been for many centuries, albeit in different ways and with different aims. An actively and sensitively managed woodland is a healthy and vibrant woodland which can provide benefits for nature, wildlife, people and the local economy.

Much of Wenlock Edge is an ancient woodland site and work is being done to gradually increase the amount of native trees, within a mixture of tree species. In the autumn and winter we spend a lot of time thinning areas of the woodland and coppicing to produce biofuel, improve the structure and enhance wildlife habitat.

Fragments of rare limestone grassland still exist in small patches on the shallow dip slope of the edge. Since the Second World War ended 98% of this habitat has been lost in the UK.

Conservation work in our flower-rich meadows tends to happen in the summer months. This is mainly mowing and hay making but our flock of Hebridean sheep work hard grazing all year round! This removes the nutrients from the soil which discourages vigorous grasses and coarse vegetation. By doing this lime-loving specialist plants can thrive, such as pyramidal orchid, eyebright and viper’s bugloss. 

Wenlock Edge volunteers undertaking monitoring work

Wenlock Edge is a refuge for a range of plant and animal rarities. The Hazel coppice supports Shropshire’s largest population of hazel dormice, a nationally endangered species, and locally scarce butterfly orchids and violet helleborine dot the woodland floor.

Pied flycatchers nest on the woodland edges and a variety of butterflies shelter in our old quarries on sunny days. We undertake a range of monitoring projects including nest boxes, distribution mapping and condition surveys to help inform our habitat management. 

You can find out more about what our team get up to by checking our Facebook page or our blog.