Volunteers help bring ancient woodland back to life 

Apr 2022

Located just off the A5 between Little and Great Brickhill, Duncombe Wood is a little hidden gem. Its history dates back to maps from the 1700s, showing it having much the same shape as it does today, but it is believed to have been woodland for much longer.  However, back in the early 1960s the majority of the deciduous ancient woodland was clear-felled for timber and instead re-planted with conifers. Even after 60 years have passed, it is still possible to see the old stumps where the majestic oak trees once stood.

Over the past year, a team of local volunteers has been working with Greensand Country to help restore some of the original, native woodland species. Conifers can prevent light reaching the woodland floor and so they first needed to be thinned. The volunteers carefully and selectively worked to produce three light-filled clearings and additional pathways. These glades have been planted up with a variety of native broadleaf trees, to provide oases in which the original species will be able to thrive – so far trees planted have included oak, beech, birch, cherry, hazel, crab apple and rowan (mountain ash). 

This woodland will now gradually over time become more biodiverse and vibrant, with new habitats evolving. Bluebells can already be seen starting to grow where they wouldn’t have been able to before, due to the increased light that the work has created. Surveys have shown that the woodland harbors many animal and plant species that are indicative of an ancient woodland. 

Woodland owner, Andrew, has been very grateful to all the fantastic volunteers who helped with the native tree planting, and to GCLP for providing the support to make this project happen. There is a public footpath running through the woodland, so people can enjoy walking through the habitat and see how it evolves. 

 Postcode locator: MK17 9NF 

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Categories: DISCOVER