Winter Hill restoration project *UPDATE*

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Back in August we reported on plans by the National Trust to work to restore the view from Winter Hill as far as possible.

In recent decades self-seeded trees have taken over, so the once impressive view has disappeared.

We are proud that this “now and then” comparison image which featured on MyMarlow social media was used as part of the evidence to support the need for the project!

We have now seen details of how the Trust plans to commence the project, starting with an area to the left as you look from the top. They will be thinning this patch of woodland, and intend to clear-fell it next year. The reason for the thinning this area beforehand is to avoid ‘shocking’ the woodland and to allow the wildlife to gradually adapt to the new environment

Work will start on Compartment 1, in red on the above original plans shared in August.

The full detail from the National Trust:

There will be a slight change to our plans for this year. We had planned to clear-fell compartment 1, this year, as this is one of the areas we are looking to return to chalk grassland. Instead, we shall be carrying out a thinning operation.

You may have noticed markings on some of the trees. Those with a pink dot are trees to felled as part of our thinning programme. Trees with a pink cross are dead or dying due to ash dieback. These dead/dying ash trees have been identified as posing a health and safety risk to surrounding roads, paths and neighbouring properties.

Some of the timber will be left as habitat, where suitable, and the rest of the timber will be used for charcoal or firewood, which are a by-product of our work that we sell to the local community. We will extract the timber as sensitively as possible to minimise any disruption to surrounding roads.

A big part of the project is ridding Winter Hill of all the rubbish that litters the slope from top to bottom. So if anyone would be keen to join us in tackling the litter issue, please get in touch. ( owen.hibben@nationaltrust.org.uk ) Our team will be there every Monday and Thursday up until Monday 16 December. We will start again in January, working through to the end of February. So if you would like to join in and help out or even simply find out more about our work, please come along to talk to us.

Some have raised concerns over wildlife that could be present on site. The felling works will only ever occur in the autumn and winter months, which are the least sensitive times of the year for wildlife such as bats and birds. However, as with any felling work, we always follow our internal process of assessing our trees for the bat potential. Any trees that have high potential will be left undisturbed, unless they are of an immediate health and safety concern.

The works we are proposing will in fact improve foraging habitat for a lot of wildlife. Woodland edge and grassland habitats are incredibly important feeding grounds as they support a diverse variety of invertebrates that many of our native species feed on. Furthermore, our aim is to improve the woodland areas we are retaining to help support more species by planting a more resilient native species mix, installing bat and bird boxes and ‘veteranising’ trees to create more natural roosting and nesting habitats.

We are aware that the site has suffered from some serious anti-social behaviour in the past, which is a concern. However, we have discussed this at length with our contacts at Thames Valley Police and the Community Wardens of RBWM. They have offered their support in making sure that these issues do not arise again by increasing their regular patrols, especially at night time.

If you want to share comments and any feedback on the project please email us at: owen.hibben@nationaltrust.org.uk

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