Deangarden Wood project
In 2017 we started one of our biggest and most exciting projects. This15 year project is restoring the semi-natural ancient woodland at Deangarden Wood, High Wycombe into a more active, positive condition for wildlife & people.
Deangarden wood is owned by the Carington Estate and we are delivering the management plan in partnership with them. It is part of a planning agreement with Buckinghamshire Council (previously Wycombe District Council) which will also see the disused/abandoned ski slope restored to chalk grassland & scrub which is a real win for wildlife and the community.
Our involvement in this project came about through an approach to us by the developer of Wycombe Summit, Hambledon Land, who sought our help to scope, draft and evolve the Woodland Management Plan. Hambledon Land obtained the agreement of the landowner and negotiated the inclusion of the plan in the s106 which was attached to the planning permission for a housing development on adjoining land.
Our work has been focused on making the site a more inviting place for people to enjoy and somewhere that the new residents of Abbey Barn Park, a new 550 home development by Berkley’s Homes, can relax and enjoy nature on their doorstep. It also provides a great alternative, eco-friendly route to the town centre.
We have been lucky enough to have been helped by a great variety of businesses to deliver the work including London Ambulance, PWC, Cairngorm Capital, Janssen Cilag, Thames Water, Seymour Taylor, Belu Water, Bucks County Council and Shanley Homes.
Look carefully and you’ll also see some of the various types of bird boxes we’ve made on “Be a Ranger days”. These are made as kits by our friends and neighbours at “Men In Sheds” – thanks guys! A couple of rustic oak- topped benches have also been installed.
Together we have cut down lots of trees – mostly squirrel and/or deer damaged young Sycamore and Ash. Where ground flora still persisted, we have created scallops and mini glades with hundreds of meters of dead hedges and many log piles. These are ideal refuges for wildlife such as hedgehogs and nesting birds such as wrens. We also had a few bonfires such has been the amount of arisings created. Now the sunlight (and rain) is pouring in and we hope the woodland will really start to respond in the spring.
The boundary management continues during the winter months before the bird nesting season commences , the work helps reduce risk to property and, over time, develops in to a thinker, lower boundary that protects the trees behind and is easier to manage. The arisings have been placed in a large, long dead hedge which is both a barrier to people and a great habitat for wildlife.
We undertake additional understorey planting including hawthorn, buckthorn, wych elm, field maple and blackthorn. We are not using plastic tree guards in a concerted effort to reduce waste from single use plastic but are instead using brash to keep the deer at bay.
One of the many deadhedges
In addition to improving the footpaths, we’ve also been making the entrances to the woodland more inviting. We’ve installed a wooden vehicle and kissing gate at the entrance of Lime Avenue, and kissing gates and some post & rail fencing along the southern boundary. This has been planted with mixed native hedgerow species.
This boundary access work is designed to future proof the site and to concentrate users through the key routes. This was a key concept in creating the management plan which seeks to protect the site from the many hundreds of new houses and new residents that will be built and live there in the coming years. The boundary is less porous and harder for people to exploit, e.g. on motorbikes, or to dump their waste which often happens in urban woodlands. Ladderboards made from recycled wood from a local social enterprise (Colwill & Co) were put up for the main entrances in January to demarcate the site.
For a free map of Keep Hill and Deangarden wood see https://www.britishorienteering.org.uk