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Heathland restored at Bishop’s Wood

10th September 2019

Three Rivers District Council continues to restore the valuable habitats of Bishop’s Wood near Rickmansworth. 

This month, work to encourage the regeneration of rare heathland habitat is planned in an area of previously cleared pine woodland, planted in the 1960s on former open wood pasture. 

Work will involve collecting fallen timber and birch scrub and burning it on-site, a necessary step to avoid incorporating this material into the soil and adding fertility. No larger trees will be felled. The area will then be mulched, removing stumps and turning over the soil to initiate regeneration of heathland plants such as heather from the seed bank. The Council will also establish ten small scrapes, where topsoil is removed to further aid regeneration. 

The contract will be managed by the Countryside Management Service in partnership with the council. The work area will be temporarily closed from 23 September for two weeks, affecting some minor paths, the main surfaced route around Bishop’s Wood will remain open at all times. 

Cllr Phil Williams, Lead Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability, said: “This project started in 2014. It has already brought £250k of funding to Bishop’s Wood including a substantial grant from the Forestry Commission. The work undertaken in the woodland has restored the ancient woodland and improved access for visitors. 

“The main path has been resurfaced, the car park improved and new interpretation panels help visitors find their way around the wood and learn more about its history and its wildlife.” 

Woodland management work has taken place in phases. The Council prioritised the removal of some of the conifers to allow native trees to regenerate and make space for the remaining trees to develop. Wide rides have been re-established to let in light and improve habitat for butterflies such as silver-washed fritillary and white admiral. 

Last winter Bishop’s Wood also saw the start of a natural flood management trial. Twenty leaky woody dams have been constructed along the streams in the wood by volunteers. These are intended to slow the flow of water through the wood and increase the amount of water that soaks into the woodland floor. This should reduce the risk of that water reaching Rickmansworth and causing flooding.

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