When the Trust purchased Charley Woods Nature Reserve in 1995 we saw a great opportunity to allow nature to create a new woodland. The nature reserve is made up of two existing woodlands, Cat Hill Wood and Burrow Wood, with a field in between them. Through natural regeneration processes the field is now taking shape as a woodland, with a wide range of species established.
Burrow Wood is an ancient woodland, with the first records of the wood dating back to the 1500’s. It is mostly dominated by English oak trees, with the occasional ash and sycamore. Cat Hill Wood was first documented in 1260, and contains oak trees and a large number of non-native species including sycamore, larch and pines. Both woods have a great variety of dead wood habitats including standing dead trees, fallen trees and branches. These are great for insects and also attract a number of birds including the nuthatch, treecreeper, great spotted woodpecker, tawny owl and jay. This was the perfect environment to let the field in between the two woods naturally regenerate into woodland.
Over 20 years later things are looking really good!
Natural regeneration is when trees develop naturally on their own. This occurs when seeds have fallen from a nearby woodland - the seeds could be moved into the new area by gravity, wind, mammals or birds.
Natural regeneration is the best way of creating a new woodland for wildlife and expanding ancient semi-natural woodland. It helps preserve the historic characteristics of trees and plants, and trees established through natural methods are more likely to be better adapted to local conditions.
It is also good for wildlife, utilising natural processes gives the woodland a natural composition with mixed ages, mixed tree species and mixed ground flora and shrubs.
Whilst tree planting is a good way to create an ‘instant’ woodland, natural regeneration can be a more environmentally friendly way of doing it. It involves no plastic tree guards, no imported tree diseases and no need to control weeds and grass.
The down side is that it takes time. It is a shame that we cannot be a bit more patient in our world today and let nature do what comes naturally!
Jays bury 3,000 to 5,000 acorns to store as food for the winter. Fortunately, they cannot remember where all of them are buried and the survivors germinate and become new oak trees. They are particularly important for oak trees as they often carry the acorns some distance from the ‘mother’ tree, thus helping them spread further afield.
A brightly coloured crow, the jay is unmistakeable. It is mainly pinkish-buff, with a black tail, white rump, black 'moustache', and black-and-white wings that sport a brilliant blue patch.
Although our nature reserves appear to be wild, undisturbed havens, a great deal of year-round work goes into keeping them that way and creating the right conditions to support local wildlife. Please consider supporting the work on our reserves by donating to our Nature Reserves Fund.
Related categories: General