A message from NHP in regards to works being carried out in Newpond Spring Wood.
The Wood is important: it is the largest area of woodland and most important natural habitat within Newhall. In addition the woodland is important visually: it separates the two halves of the Newhall site and thus reduces the impact of the overall built development on residents, connecting more people with nature.
The Wood has a number of problems. Unfortunately there are a growing number of dead, dying or diseased trees. Changes in the watertable are believed to have impacted Sycamore and now a large proportion of the mature Ash trees are infected with Ash Dieback and we are seeing significant dieback in their canopies as well as other symptoms. A further problem is that this is happening in a woodland of relatively small size, with a dense even-aged tree canopy which has inhibited diverse natural regeneration. What natural regeneration there is, is dominated by Sycamore.
In order to improve the structural diversity and density of the woodland and enhance the habitat potential of the woodland, as well as maintaining its historic character, planting works instructed by Newhall Projects will be undertaken this month and next. Hornbeam, Oak, Alder, Field Maple, Holly, Hawthorn and Willow will be planted. The new trees and shrubs are being planted in those places where most light is reaching the woodland floor which often corresponds to where the bramble patches lay. The bramble clearance Mr Bishop refers to is being carried out to facilitate this planting but we fully expect it to grow back and ultimately will only control regrowth immediately around the new plants whilst they are establishing, to give them the best chance of survival.
A small number of dead trees including some caught up fallen trees, have been felled this month and the timber will be stacked to create dead wood piles or otherwise left in contact with the woodland floor. There are a number of other trees that are giving us cause for concern and during 2022 these dead, dying or diseased trees will be assessed for keeping by arboricultural and ecological consultants. They will both understand the habitat value of standing deadwood but in this location, issues of safety do come into play owing to recreational use of the woodland and the woodland’s juxtaposition to roads, footpaths, pavements, the nursery playground, and car-parking. In the event that tree felling or the reduction of tree canopies proceeds, the intention is to cut and stack timber to create log piles and other deadwood habitat, and any opportunities for replacement planting will be taken. Where it is assessed to be safe to do so, some standing dead trees will also be pollarded rather than felled completely in order to retain standing dead wood.
Other activity in the wood includes coppicing the self sown shrubby willow and alder around the forebay area, excavating silt from the forebay detention area to create some open water habitat and replacing the steel railings around the headwalls with timber railings as was originally intended. Some further bramble cutting may be necessary for access but that will also take place outside the bird-nesting season and is expected to re-grow.