A new native species woodland has been planted in Pembury Wood, near Royal Tunbridge Wells, by the Hadlow Estate.
A hectare (approximately 2.5 acres) of native broadleaf trees will create a new oak woodland with sweet chestnut coppice, in place of over-mature conifers which were planted more than 70 years ago.
Estate Forester Rick Vallis explained: “After a thorough assessment of the area, some over-mature trees which are now unsuitable for commercial use and pose a safety risk have been felled and recycled into wood fuel for the biomass boiler at Hadlow Place Farms.
“We used a machine to mulch the forest floor, turning up the stumps and other debris to create the right base to plant the saplings. We have planted around a hectare of a mixture of native broadleaf trees, creating an oak woodland with sweet chestnut coppice understory.
“Removal of over-mature or unproductive trees in this way is an important part of a progressive forest management cycle and has allowed us to introduce more native species. At the Hadlow Estate, there is an annual programme of thinning and coppicing, processes which are vital to allow the remaining trees space to thrive, as well as creating a diverse habitat on the forest floor for a range of flora, fauna and fungi.”
The saplings are currently surrounded by tree guards to protect them from wildlife, in particular the local deer population. These will remain on for around five years until the trees are established, then removed and recycled.
Kate Teacher of the Hadlow Estate added: “As well as creating habitats to encourage a biodiverse ecosystem, our woodland management programme provides timber to the Estate’s biomass boiler and supplies good quality saw logs and timber to local mills and combined heat and power plants in Kent. In addition, we are also creating employment opportunities in the area.
“With almost a quarter of the Estate made up of woodland, it is important that we take a sustainable approach to the stewardship of woodland in our care and ensure we enhance the benefits the woodland provides to wildlife, people and businesses.”