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Forestry and Wilding

Woodland makes up an important part of Lockerley Estate covering an area 235 ha / 580 ac. Most trees are native broadleaved species with ages ranging from 5 years to an ancient Yew tree that could be 1000 years old! In recent years a continuous cover forestry system has been adopted which ensures timber production and biodiversity can co-exist in harmony. There are two woodland Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) on the estate, one near Broughton Down  and one at the south of the estate which is also a Special Area of Conservation designated for the rare Barbastelle bat. The woodland is part of a Countryside Stewardship Scheme which helps us fund important work with such things as Hazel coppicing and ride management.

There are approximately 18km of mature hedges across the estate which are made up of a diverse mix of species including hawthorn, blackthorn, privet, elder, dog wood, buckthorn, wayfaring tree, guelder rose, briar, bramble to name a few. In the last 3 years we have planted a further 2km of new hedges which is around 10,000 individual hedge plants. A further 1km will be planted in the winter of 2022.

Hedges are an important feature for lots of reasons, the most visible being their place in the rural landscape but perhaps more important is in their value as habitat. A vast array of wildlife relies on hedges from insects to birds to small mammals and right through to grazing livestock in the fields. Hedges are a home to many species and a food source, especially for birds as berries and fruit proliferate in the autumn. They are a safe corridor for small mammals away from birds of prey and they provide shelter from the wind essential for butterflies.

For a hedge to remain a hedge it needs to be periodically trimmed, otherwise it simply becomes a row of trees and overgrown shrubs. At Lockerley we have adopted a lengthened cutting regime where hedges are cut every two or three years and that cutting takes place when there is no fruit on the plants or birds nesting. The only hedges that are cut annually are roadside hedges where safety is paramount but even in this case the side not facing the road will be left for two or three years between cuts.

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