Habitat Improvement at Budby South Forest

Over autumn and winter there will be some woodland and heathland conservation work taking place across Budby Heath and parts of Sherwood.

The works are part of our plans to make Budby and Sherwood an even better place for wildlife. We’ve surveyed the area in advance, and the work will be taking place outside of the breeding season to make sure nothing is disturbed.

The site will look a little raw for a while, but nature will quickly get to work in helping it recover into an improved habitat that is much more like the historic Sherwood Forest of legends.

The work will take place with the support of Viridor Credits Environmental Company, who have awarded £44,666 through the Landfill Communities Fund. The funding will allow us to carry out some of this vital habitat work at Budby South Forest, as well as some new fencing around the site of the old visitor facilities.

Read on to hear a little bit about why we’re doing the work, what it’s hoping to help, and what’s happening next. The map below shows the areas in which the works will take place.

Areas in which work is taking place. Seymour Grove and Ladysmith Plantation timber harvest (blue). Budby Heath tree works (yellow).

Seymour Grove and Ladysmith Plantation timber harvest:

(blue area on map)

The conifer trees in Seymour were planted over 50 years ago by Thoresby Estate as a timber crop. Some of the conifers will be felled in the coming weeks. Ladysmith was planted for timber too, but it has not had any management in it for a long time. Removing some trees will leave gaps to open heathy glades, make room for native Sherwood trees and better connect the wood pasture of Sherwood to the heath of Budby. It means wildlife can move through their habitats more freely and make new homes through the forest. We’ll be encouraging some of the remaining trees to spread and sprawl which will be better for wildlife than ‘lollipop stick’ straight trees. In many years, they might be the new Major Oaks! Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of pines, oaks and birches in the wider area for birds like crossbills, goldcrests and siskins, and we’ll be encouraging more scrub species like rowan and hawthorn for our warblers, tits and thrushes.

Budby Heath tree works:

(yellow area on map)

On the heath some of woodland blocks will be thinned to improve the structural diversity and provide different types of homes for more wildlife. Some mature and distinctive trees will be ‘haloed’ by clearing surrounding weed trees to give them more space to grow. We need the right balance of different age, species and structure of scrub and trees to ensure this important open habitat – and the vulnerable wildlife that relies on it – can be here for many more years yet. The works will look a little raw at first but it will recover naturally and it won’t be long until we see the benefits!

Take Care: Please be aware of heavy machinery on site and follow any safety notices.

What’s Next?

Following the forestry work and going into the new year, further heathland work will be happening. New fences will replace the old, decrepit ones to allow our conservation grazing to continue. Without delicate nibbling, the nutrient build-up would mean that the open heath would soon succumb to scrub encroachment and return to woodland and scrub. While that’s an important component of the heathland landscape her, too much of it will push out the species that rely on open habitats, like woodlarks and nightjars.

Bare sandy ground areas will be created to give some of our often-overlooked species a home on the heath. Burrowing beetles and solitary bees need compact sandy earth to make their nests, and Budby is one of the most important places in the county for these types of invertebrates. Providing more of this component of the heath means they can spread out and build big populations.

All of the work carried out at Budby aims to get the heathland habitat in a better balance of all the different components including heather, bracken, bare ground, scrub, gorse and mature trees. Once they are in the right proportions for the size of land here, we can manage it more efficiently and keep it that way for years to come. We’ll link up with our neighbours like Thoresby Estate and Forestry Commission who are doing similar work to make the wider Sherwood landscape more resilient for our amazing wildlife, so there’s even more for people to enjoy.

Keep updated:

We’ll be updating about the works on our website and social media, as well as through signage around the forest. We’ll also be leading some free guided walks about the works – keep an eye out on our events page!

For more information please email sherwoodforest@rspb.org.uk.