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.