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2017 Heartwood UH ad

Further to the previous blog post regarding the bluebells at Heartwood Forest, our monitoring of the woodland shows how well the woodland is recovering. Bluebells are coming back to the cordoned off damaged areas at an incredible rate, thanks to all those people who are helping the Woodland Trust to protect the bluebells by staying on the paths and encouraging others to do so. These are photographs taken at the same spot, within a protected area, two years apart with the second one being taken a week ago.

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New areas have been cordoned off this year, in the hope that they also can regenerate and recover, as, just a few years ago, they too were covered in bluebells.

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It is wonderful to see the ability that nature has to recover from the damage done to it, with the help and respect of the visitors to the woods, meaning that the spectacular sight of a mass of blue within our woods will be there for many years to come.

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The Woodland Trust has become aware of several companies offering photoshoots at Heartwood Forest in/amongst/with a backdrop of bluebells in the ancient woodland. While all visitors are welcome to come and enjoy the bluebell displays at this time of year, any professional photography is not permitted without written consent – this includes commissioned shoots of people or animals. Please be aware that Heartwood Forest is private land and that no professional photography is authorised without permission from the landowner. Individuals taking photographs for private use are of course permitted to do so – all visitors are asked to stick to designated paths to protect the bluebells and all dogs must be kept on a lead in these areas.

 

Heartwood Forest contains four areas of ancient woodland where, each spring, a stunning display of bluebells can be seen. These flowers are particularly special here as around one fifth of the world’s bluebells are found in the UK. The species is currently protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981, with trade and sale of the flowers banned.

Sadly, over time there have been cases of trampling within Heartwood, consequently damaging the bluebells and causing disruption to the woodland habitat. Where humans and dogs have strayed from the designated footpaths, there has been a significant decrease in the abundance of these beautiful wildflowers. The dramatic effects of trampling can be seen in the images below – one was taken before the bluebells were damaged, the other after significant trampling.

According to research carried out by Moulton College in the Midlands, once damaged, bluebells need approximately five years, without any additional disturbance, to recover fully. Not only does trampling cause a loss of up to 96% of the bluebells’ flowers, but the species also cannot produce seeds as efficiently, consequently affecting many generations to come.

The “Save Our Bluebells” (SOB) campaign is our way of alerting visitors to the importance of walking responsibly through Heartwood and ensuring the bluebells’ success in years to come. In Langley Wood, there is a marked trail for visitors to follow, as well as signs asking that people stay on this route to ensure no more trampling occurs. There is a designated play area in the southern corner of Langley, so children can play in the wood while letting the bluebells recover safely. There are leaflets situated in various locations around Heartwood including the car park, on the scout hut notice board, in Langley Wood itself and on the Magical Wood board. These leaflets contain more information about how visitors can reduce their impact on Heartwood’s bluebells, so please feel free to take one.

Meanwhile, throughout the campaign, volunteers will be situated in the car park to welcome visitors to the site, hand out leaflets and answer any questions you may have about the bluebells. Please feel free to talk to the volunteers, who are more than willing to have a chat about the SOB campaign and the work that’s being carried out.

When the bluebells are in full bloom in Langley Wood, it is understandable that many visitors will want to photograph them. Please remember to stay on the way marked trail when taking photos; I can tell you first hand that you can get beautiful photos without straying from the path!

If we do not act now, the bluebells in Heartwood will continue to deteriorate and will eventually be lost all together. Seeing such an iconic British species disappear due to trampling by humans would be catastrophic, so the SOB campaign is essential in raising awareness about these delicate British wildflowers. Please come to Heartwood and see this stunning natural spectacle, but remember just how fragile and special these flowers are.

Heartwood bluebell before trampling - Copy

Before trampling

Heartwood bluebell after trampling - Copy

After trampling

 

 

 

 

We are coming to the end of the Winter planting season – just 3 more work parties to go before the end of March when we have to stop planting. The trees are already starting to bud – and today’s work party enjoyed some wonderful sunshine.

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This spurred the volunteers on to plant over 3000 trees, a fantastic achievement!

We still have plenty more trees to plant before the end of the month, though!

The 3 work parties left are on Wednesday 15th March, Tuesday 21st March and Monday 27th March.

If you haven’t been before and would like to come along to help in planting the last trees of the season, please email heartwood@woodlandtrust.org.uk for further details.

We usually meet at 10am, with the meeting location varying according to where the work parties are based.

The sessions finish around 3pm, but people come and go as they need to. Hot drinks are provided but if you are staying for the whole day, please bring your own lunch. Please also make sure that you are wearing suitable clothing and footwear.

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Are you looking for something to do with your children on Saturday 15th April? Why not come along to Wick Wood in St Albans for an Easter hunt? All proceeds go to the Woodland Trust.

The work on the car park and entrance track at Heartwood Forest is complete and the car park is now open again.

There is some tidying up to be done by the workforce but this will not affect general use and will be done while the car park is open.

Opening times are currently 8am to 5pm.