Well, it’s because we’re undergoing a thorough Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is helping us to plan the new woodland. This is carried out under the auspices of the Forestry Commission in line with the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999. Amongst other things, the process will help us decide the most suitable areas to establish the trees and associated interests. We’re looking at the likely effects that the project might have on people, flora, fauna, water, soils, climate, archaeology, landscape… the list goes on.
We want to create a huge woodland but we do have a degree of flexibility and can incorporate some open space, and the newly accessible land will offer some great views – we want to keep some of these so we’re working with a landscape architect to look at how the planting can merge into the environment in the most aesthetically pleasing way, at the same time maximising conservation value by buffering existing and adjacent wildlife habitats.
The Roman town Verulamium, the nearby Belgic Devil’s Dyke and the war of the roses, we know the area has historical interest which is why we are working with archaeological consultants to locate any significant remains. Magnetic susceptibility sampling is currently under way – don’t ask me what it is but I’m told it helps identify what’s below the surface. We know of at least two Roman roads at the site already.
Breeding bird surveys, butterfly transects, transport analyses, it’s all underway or in the pipeline.
Gathering this vast array information as quickly and efficiently as we can is one thing, but marrying it together to come up with a workable planting scheme is another. But with any luck we should be in a position to sharpen our spades and get planting by the end of the year. That’s when we’ll be asking for your help!