The protection arrangements for Ancient Woodland are proposed to change to that of SSSI’s, or the equivalent. This will certainly help to clarify a position, which has been very muddled and complex historically. However, there is a caveat in that the current mapping and understanding of the ancient woodland resource is very variable across the country, with many anomalies. It will, therefore, be vital to ensure that these are resolved as part of the process.
In addition, whilst development is the most easily identifiable and contestable cause of ancient woodland loss and damage, there are many other issues which are also having a massively negative impact on this critical resource, including lack of management, over harvesting, vermin damage (especially wild deer), invasive species, soil erosion and damage.
It is important that we understand this resource and seek to identify the threats and address these at the same time, to ensure that we do not lose more than we seek to gain, focusing too heavily on the “big bad developers.” It is often the case that funding and sensitive Green Infrastructure Master Planning can see huge benefits, through management, buffering and linkage – that could not be achieved without their evaluation, planning and investment. Lack of realistic funding has plagued ancient woodland for many years, with many owners disengaged and frustrated by a resource that, for many, is just a money black hole.
At Lockhart Garratt we are working with the Woodland Trust to identify the threats and opportunities within the ancient woodland resource and look forward to helping provide practical and pragmatic solutions to the issues and challenges, that will aim to see this unique habitat flourish prosperously into the future. Please call our offices if you’re interested in a funded survey and report.