I am sure that regular walkers in the village have been through the Polehanger Farm River Woodland at some point, but even if you have yet to pass through, or are new to the area, I want to share with you the plans we have for the woodland over the coming months.
But first, a little history: situated at the North Western end of Polehanger Farm between the A507 and the River Hit, The Polehanger Farm River Woodland is a former grassland river meadow used by the Polehanger dairy herd until 1991.
The woodland was created in the year 2000 and covers 8.1 hectares - roughly the size of ten football pitches.
Approximately 14,000 trees were planted with the predominant species being Oak and Ash, in addition to a mix of Sycamore, Field Maple, Wild Cherry, Hazel and Hawthorn.
The long-term goal is to provide a sustainable community asset. Access is provided by a series of permissive paths throughout the woodland, linking the existing public and permissive footpath network running through Polehanger Farm.
Woodland Management Works in Progress
This is an actively managed woodland, based on a Forestry Commission approved plan. Work may be carried out at various points within the year, including path grass-cutting, tree-trimming, tree-thinning and felling.
Improvement works starting in November 2018 and running through to the end of 2019 will see the following taking place:
- Siding up the ride - The ride is the main route through the woodland and it is important to control the growth of the trees along this ride to allow light to access the ground through the canopy, provide a more visually appealing walk and also to increase the biodiversity of the ground level flora and fauna that would otherwise be blocked out by overhanging branches and leaf canopy.
- Chipping waste on to the paths – Rather than removing waste from any tree works, any suitable trimmings are chipped on site and spread across the paths to try and improve the walking surface. The paths can become wet and muddy during the winter months.
- Using logs to line the path – To define the walking route, rather than extract cut timber, any suitable trunks are being cut to size and used to line the permissive paths. This will also provide additional habitats for insects and more.
- Leaving deadwood habitats – Additional piles of deadwood or logs will be left within the trees themselves to allow for further habitats to be created over time.
- Thinning of trees to improve competition and strength of trees – Currently still a relatively young woodland, tree thinning is required to allow stronger trees to mature and thicken and provide better quality trees going forward long term. Selected trees will be felled at regularly spaced intervals, with most trunks again used for lining of the paths and waste to be chipped for the paths.
- Providing signage boards and a nature trail – Improved information boards will be placed at the main entrances to the woodland providing maps, history, flora and fauna details. In addition, a mini nature trail will be installed along the path routes to introduce people to some of the plant and animal species that can be spotted in and around the woodland.
- Improving access points – Over time, the access points to the woodland will be improved to prevent the excessive build-up of water and mud.
The Polehanger Farm River Woodland, River Hit and surroundings provide valuable habitats for a wide range of species. Amongst others mentioned in local records, you may spot Buzzards, Red Kites, Sparrowhawks, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Cuckoos, Woodpeckers, Grey Herons, Kingfishers; plus bees, Butterflies, Moths, Badgers and Hedgehogs. Please visit the woodland over the coming months to enjoy the seasonal change into Spring, and see how the works progress and improve what is already enjoyed by so many local people.
We encourage you all to visit the woodland over the coming months to enjoy the seasonal change into Spring, but hopefully also to see how the works progress and improve what is already enjoyed by so many local people.
When in the River Woodland, please ensure that you and your dogs keep to the marked paths in order to protect the flora and fauna and ensure that important habitats are not disturbed. Leave the woodland in a state that you would expect to find It, so that everyone can continue to enjoy it as it is intended.
If you spot anything that does not seem right within the woodland, or if you have any questions, please use the following email address, along with any photographs you may have taken – firstname.lastname@example.org
The nature trail is kindly supported by Meppershall Parish Council.
Polehanger Farms Ltd as the landowner has agreed to allow the public to use these permissive paths through the River Woodland. There is no intention to dedicate this path as a right of way. Please keep to the waymarked paths.