Wildlife trust’s delight as ancient woodland restoration works begin

Residents formed a Save Pondtail Wood action group when the ancient woodland site was destroyed. Picture: Bob Foreman
Residents formed a Save Pondtail Wood action group when the ancient woodland site was destroyed. Picture: Bob Foreman

Work has begun on restoring an ancient woodland site to its ‘former glory’.

Acres of Pondtail Wood in Poynings, which is within the South Downs National Park, was destroyed in May last year after masses of trees were illegally felled.

Conservation advisor Phil Belden. Picture: Sussex Wildlife Trust

Conservation advisor Phil Belden. Picture: Sussex Wildlife Trust

Rubble was also dumped to create access roads and was subsequently stopped by the South Downs National Park Authority and Forestry Commission.

The destruction left residents, conservationists and councillors shocked and it was described as a ‘devastating loss’.

Residents formed a Save Pondtail Wood action group and urged people to write to the South Downs National Park Authority to safeguard the future of the woodland.

Sussex Wildlife Trust confirmed on Wednesday (August 23) that early work had started on reparing the damage.

We can now report some good news. With the wet early season and bird-nesting out of the way, early work has started on repairing the damage.

Conservation advisor Phil Belden

Conservation advisor Phil Belden said: “Earlier this year we gave the news that a new owner had stepped in to buy the wood, conscious that he had to take on the liability of restoring it and we waited.

“We can now report some good news. With the wet early season and bird-nesting out of the way, early work has started on repairing the damage.

“The landowner is undertaking the agreed works, working with the South Downs National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and Natural England.

“Under the watchful eyes of an ecologist and enforcement officer, he is removing a large area of waste dumped in the wood, and has also undertaken some safety works, removing dangerous and overhanging trees left by the previous owner when he was abruptly stopped from proceeding with his woodland clearance activities.

“All seems to be going in the right direction, but it is early days, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this. Our wish is to have, not just a repairing of the damage, but to see a full restoration, the coniferous plantation eventually replaced with the original deciduous woodland tree cover and the ground flora slowly re-emerging to its former glory.

“The early works are encouraging, so we are hoping for a more promising future for Pondtail Wood. The landowner has said his aim is to redeem the woodland to its former beauty.”

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