The woodland on the Commons is termed secondary woodland because it is not the original vegetation. It has grown within the past 150 years, replacing large areas of pasture and heathland since grazing stopped towards the end of the 19th century. The dominant trees are Oak and Silver Birch, with an under-storey of Rowan, Hawthorn and Yew. There are occasional patches of Heather and Gorse as relicts of the earlier vegetation. The ground flora largely consists of Bramble, Bracken and Ivy.
In managing the woodland, the Trustees seek to maintain a healthy and varied age-range of native trees and shrubs, together with a plentiful quantity of standing and fallen dead wood, which provides a habitat for insects, small mammals, hole-nesting birds and roosting bats.
During the months when there are no nesting birds to be disturbed, a lot of time is spent thinning the holly which otherwise makes the woods appear very dark, forming dense thickets, creating shade which is too intense to allow the regeneration of other trees and severely limiting the growth of any ground flora.
Tree safety management demands a great deal of the Trustees’ resources in both time and money. There are some 1,100 trees overhanging roads, footpaths and boundaries. All have to be inspected and their condition recorded. Dead and damaged wood has to be removed.
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