Friends Of Park Wood Hellingly

Environment Agency Park Wood Information Page

Environment Agency Park Wood Information Page

What is the current situation

Government guidance directs the public sector to only hold land necessary for its requirements. We have previously proposed selling Park Wood as it was originally considered surplus to our operational need. The woodland is not for sale as we have recognised the potential for its operational use of sustainable woodland produce in Natural Flood Management and fencing etc. The woodland is also helping us to meet our ambitious goal to reach Carbon Net Zero by 2030.In recent years, Park Wood has been under-managed.  Much of the coppice has been growing unmanaged and a significant proportion is diseased.  The woodland canopy has closed over leading to a decline in the quality and extent of wildlife habitat. Community groups have been raising awareness, undertaken survey work and commissioned an ancient woodland restoration plan. Building on this useful work we need to develop detailed information to allow us to justify and plan for our long term retention and sustainable management of the woodland.

What we are planning to do

We are currently producing a woodland management plan, undertaking ecological and historical surveys and planning some public access improvements.

The Environment Agency’s vision is to restore the woodland and to conserve and enhance its biodiversity through a sustainable woodland management approach that works with natural processes.  We will be guided by the Government’s 25 year environment plan; this is driven by the need to leave the natural environment in a better state than we inherited it.

At the same time, community access will be improved and maintained with the aim of enhancing recreational opportunities for local people and providing training and educational opportunities both for the local community and Environment Agency staff. Some areas will be left undisturbed with minimal intervention in order to benefit those species that depend on old growth woodland.

Some more detailed elements of our plans for financial year 2021/22 include:

  • Way Markers: To be installed once we have a decided the exact routes – these are likely to be the existing routes but we will look at any small detours where future maintenance might be an issue. Only way-marked paths will be given a Public Safety Risk Assessment and appropriate actions taken when needed – removing dangerous branches/brush etc.
  • Notice Boards: Information boards to be put in the woods where we will put up-to-date information explaining our maintenance works.
  • Interpretation Boards: We are looking of updating the Park Wood interpretation board with a new one including a new map with the new walking routes and ecological information of species within the woods
  • Flooding on NHS Trust’s Land: We are continuing to investigate the cause of the blockage. We are working closely with the Bunny Run and local authorities to understand where the blockage is and how this could be freed up to allow drainage
  • Horse Rider Access: We have met and walked the woods with a local rider and a representative from the BHS (British Horse Society). As part of this we are hoping to make the bridle way more accessible for all riders and we are more confident that this access will be improved by next spring.
  • Tree Works: 1)We will be carrying tree works in late summer/early autumn on trees that have been identified as a potential safety risk.  2) Between September and March, we will be starting to implement some of the new management plan through the activities of our field teams as they undertake their essential chainsaw training courses. Both of these pieces of work may involve temporarily closing footpaths while the works are carried out.  We will put a notice up in advance of the works and signage to indicate which paths aren’t accessible.
  • Ecological Surveys: Dormouse nest box checks are being undertaken by a suitably licensed person and we are continuing to work with Sussex Bat Group and Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group to work up a program of surveys which the local community can also get involved with.