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Box Moor Trust Woodlands

Woodlands are a vital habitat, supporting rich biodiversity, with hundreds of species of plant and animals who find shelter and food within the diverse ecosystem. Trees play a significant role in the health of the planet; woodland is important for the  storage of carbon, water flow regulation and soil protection.

The Box Moor Trust Estate has around 42 hectares of woodland comprising of predominantly broadleaved trees, but also some coniferous. 

The Trust is committed to effectively maintaining and managing the woodland areas for recreation, enjoyment and lifelong learning.

There are five principle woodland areas detailed below

Gorsefield and Ramacre WoodPart of Westbrook Hay, together these woodlands measure 8.3 hectares. They abut one another, running alongside Box Lane. 

Both areas were heavily thinned around 20 years ago and have sizable open glades. There is part ancient semi – natural woodland to be found here; old yews, mature beech, hornbeam and oak, with rhododendron and snowberry that can be discovered in places. 

Ash Dieback is affecting these woodlands. Many of the ash are to be felled for safety with the site being replanted with hornbeam, oak, Scots pine, and wild cherry.

Hay WoodThe largest wooded area at Westbrook Hay at 8.4 hectares. The woodland is partly ancient semi-natural woodland and another part is a plantation on an ancient woodland site.

Broadleaved species of trees can be found here as well as yew and common box. There are open glades used for environmental awareness activities and a dew pond left for wildlife to thrive.

There is a lot of deteriorating mature ash in this woodland. Those most affected by Ash Dieback will be felled for safety, and invasive laurel will be controlled.

Green Croft

Part of Westbrook Hay, measuring 1.1 hectares, Green Croft is one of the smallest areas of established woodland on the Box Moor Trust Estate, found in the top corner of Overbourne.

This site is ancient semi-natural woodland, however, is mostly comprised of mature ash and laurel. 

Much of the laurel has been cleared within the last 10 years. The ash that has significantly deteriorated due to Ash Dieback will be felled for safety reasons, and much of the felled dead wood will be left, where safe to do so, to offer a mosaic of ground habitats for many species.

Bury Wood and Sheethanger CommonBury Wood is part ancient semi-natural woodland spanning over 14.1 hectares . Prior to its transfer to Box Moor Trust this area had been managed by felling and thinning. Over the coming years the Trust will continue to thin the diseased ash, restocking with diverse species.

The lower part of Bury Wood is not ancient, however, does contain a few old beech trees and developing oak. Ash Dieback is prevalent in this area, and trees will be felled for safety. The woodland will be restocked with a mixture of predominantly beech, cherry, hornbeam, lime & maple

A recent ash and oak woodland, around 3.1 hectares, has emerged on Sheethanger Common. This area has for the best part been unmanaged. Box Moor Trust will look to thin this wood – offering the stronger trees space and opportunity to develop.

Lower and Upper RoughdownThis area of woodland has to be carefully managed. Lower Roughdown and the Common are managed to an agreed SSSI management plan, selected trees will be felled and the scrub managed as part of the plan. for more details please look at our Roughdown Common Project page here.

Ash Dieback is noticeable in this area, and will be removed where needed in Upper Roughdown; the removal of the mature and deteriorating trees will encourage natural regeneration of native mixed broadleaves.

For a full map of the Box Moor Trust Estate please visit our Maps and Walks page here.

Each of the different woodland areas have different management objectives. Most of Box Moor Trust’s woodlands contain specimen trees that are protected by TPO’s; these trees are looked after in line with local authority guidance.

We do have good diversity within our woodlands, however, as with most stewards of woodland and greenspace we monitor the condition of our woodlands closely. Our monitoring activities direct our planning and offer opportunities to improve biodiversity and the resilience of our habitats, with climate change, pests and disease at the forefront of our minds.

Examples of some of the many diseases and pests effecting Box Moor Trust Woodlands

Ash dieback is forecast to kill the majority of the Ash trees in Britain, dramatically changing the landscape of our country. It is a fungal disease that spreads via spores traveling through the air.

The thinning crowns of a copse of ash trees suffering from ash dieback, found on Sheethanger. 
Thinning ash canopy Credit: Peter Samson BMT

Diseased Ash trees can be unstable and unsafe. The fungus disrupts the trees water and nutrient movement systems, reducing leaf coverage, and eventually causing the tree to rot from inside the trunk.

At the Box Moor Trust we are choosing to remove the trees before they become unsafe and pose a risk to people or property.

Woodland is a very important habitat for native flora and fauna. The Box Moor Trust have, and will, continue to replant woodland with new trees, recommended by the Forestry Commission.

Acute Oak Decline is a recently discovered phenomenon that has been reducing the oak population in the UK over the last couple of decades. Environmental changes cause stress within the tree – and this stress creates weak points such as splits in the bark. From these splits or cracks the tree may been seen to bleed, the fluid the tree loses is essentially its food. This loss makes it harder for the tree to survive the winter; pair this with thinning leaves and less photosynthesis and even less food is produced, depleting the tree even further.

A weakened tree is more susceptible to general pests, and bacterial infection. Mature oak trees have been observed declining very quicky, and essentially are lost within 5 to 10 years.

The Oak Processionary Moth lays hundreds of eggs, in clutches, during the late summer. The nests are usually high up in the branches of oak trees, and hard to spot from the ground.

The black headed, grey bodied caterpillars emerge in the spring and begin eating; stripping the tree of its leaves, making their way along the branches in procession – nose to tail – leaving a wake of devastation. Without leaves, trees are unable to photosynthesise and  become weak due to the lack of nourishment.

Oak Processionary Caterpillar Credit: Rebecca Gosling / WTML
Oak Processionary Moth Caterpillar Credit: Rebecca Gosling / WTML

Oak processionary caterpillars are not only harmful to the oak trees, but also harmful to humans and animals. As the caterpillars grow, they develop long white hairs along their bodies and these hairs cause allergic reactions such as itching and redness – in severe cases, breathing difficulties. 

We are is committed to tackling this pest, and when an infestation is spotted, we act in accordance with government and Forestry Commission Guidance.

If you spot an Oak Processionary Moth nest, please report this to us as soon as you can, stating the location. 

Both the Asian and Citrus longhorn beetles are wood boring insects. They lay their eggs in burrows under the bark of broadleaf trees. The adult beetles eat the leaves and young bark of the tree, whilst the larvae tunnel inside the trunk eating the trees wood within. 

Both beetle species are non-native. Native beetles tend to feed on dead wood, whereas the Asian and Citrus longhorn beetles feed on healthy trees. Citrus longhorn beetles are found in the roots and lower regions of a tree, the Asian longhorn beetle is usually found higher in the trunk and canopy. Evidence of infestation is found by observing 1cm large boreholes in the tree bark; created by emerging adults.

Both beetle species are not present in the UK at the moment. 

A canker is an area of dead bark on a tree – below the visible dead bark there will be dead wood. These cankers can be observed on the trunk of a tree, and the smaller branches and twigs.

Bleeding canker of the horse chestnut species is a disease without a cure. The disease is caused by fungus like bacteria that gets into the tree through naturally occurring pores in the bark, or wounds. The bacteria colonise in the water system within the tree, causing the tree to bleed and disrupts in the natural flow of water and food for the tree.

The result is obvious, with the noticeable bleeding canker, however, there is also a reduction in canopy coverage with less foliage – the disease eventually causes the tree to drop limbs, and ultimately, die. 

You may have noticed the reduction in the Horse chestnut trees across the Box Moor Trust estate. Unfortunately, horse chestnut bleeding canker is prevalent within our trees and woodlands. Bleeding canker is thought to be infectious, and guidance advises the removal of infected branches and trees to reduce the rate of infection among the population. We have been actively working to preserve the trees we can by removing infected limbs and trees that have succumb to the disease; being sure to avoid any cross contamination between trees. 

For more information, including images, on pests and diseases attacking the UK’s tree population please visit the Woodland Trust’s web page Key Tree Pests and Diseases here.

The Box Moor Trust follows recommended guidance from the Forestry Commission. All forestry work is completed by certificated industry professionals. If you have any questions on our woodland management plans or practices please get in touch with us.