The Heart of England Forest at Bearley
In March 2020 Heart of England Forest purchased 200 acres of land at Bearley, a site which offered great tree planting potential, but also buffered some mature woodland giving the opportunity to enhance this habitat too. Being only a mile from land that they already own and have planted at Newnham meant that this new acquisition was perfectly positioned to expand the Heart of England Forest.
Acquiring land is central to the vision of creating a 30,000 acre native broadleaf woodland which will be here for generations to come. Benefitting the environment, wildlife and people, owning the land to give the Forest permanence is vital.
Preparation and Planting
Once soil surveys and environmental assessments had been completed, the forestry team started work planning and preparing to plant in the winter 2021/22. The Head Forester designed the site with wide signature rides and a rich mix of native broadleaf trees including English oak which will form the main canopy of the woodland, rowan, a brilliant pollinator with colourful berries in the autumn and shrubby dogwood which provides food and shelter for wildlife. Planting began in early December and wrapped up at the end of March 2022 with 50,260 saplings being put into the ground. Please view the video which shows the site before and after planting: https://youtu.be/haOMhsh-zgE
During the spring and summer of 2022, the forestry team routinely visited the site to assess the general condition of the newly planted trees- it is essential that we protect and care for new trees in their formative years. These inspections help to record information about whether any saplings need re-planting and inform decisions about work to come in the next few years.
It is essential that we protect new trees in their formative stages, for up to 10 years
The Charity included an interesting feature during planting following an approach by a supporter with an idea along with the required funds. Fifteen apple and pear heritage trees were purchased and set out in the shape of a heart which is hoped in the future, at blossom time, will be seen from above.
Coppicing and underplanting works were also undertaken at Hawkes Wood to restore and enhance the existing eight acres of mature woodland. Light levels to the woodland floor were improved and the understorey enriched with hazel to create niche habitats and support a wider range of species.
With the land in the ownership of Heart of England Forest, they have been monitoring and surveying the wildlife found in the Forest. It was discovered that skylarks (a Red List Species of Conservation Concern) are nesting there and so to encourage a permanent presence by these melodious birds, they are keeping fourteen acres of open grassland as the female builds an open nest in a shallow depression on open ground well away from trees, bushes and hedges.
One of the charity’s key objectives is to create a haven for visitors to reconnect with nature and immerse themselves in the natural world, so maintaining public access within our woodlands is also very important to us. Along with the public right of way found in this part of the Forest linking Bearley and Pathlow, they offer permissive access around the community woodland area found at the Bearley village side of the new planting.
You can support Heart of England Forest by giving a donation or signing up as a Friend of the Forest via their website to help grow, maintain including the provision of permissive access.
For further information on the Forest at Bearley, please contact Ros Anscombe, Community Partnerships Officer, 07754 800258 The Heart of England Forest | Heart of England Forest