Planting and protecting forest habitat is at the core of our ethos at Thames Chase

With well over 2 million trees planted since the creation of Thames Chase Trust and Community Forest, there is plenty of forested areas in the Community Forest.

Our Conservation Volunteers, work alongside the Forestry Commission, planting and protecting woodland across the 40sq miles of the Thames Chase Community Forest.

Thames Chase Community Forest was established in 1990 when there were around 825 hectares (2060acres) of existing woodland in the 40 sq miles of the Forest. New planting has now brought the total tree cover up to 1300ha. and managing both new and old woodland is one of the key areas of work for the Community Forest.

Wooded landscapes are some of the most mysterious, romantic and relaxing places to visit. Not only are woods attractive to the eye, but research has shows that within a few minutes of entering a wood our heartbeat slows and we become less stressed. Management to protect woodlands is important to conserve and enhance our unique woodland heritage, as well as to improve our enjoyment of the countryside.

The British Isles have a long history of woodland management and the vast majority of woodlands we see have been shaped to a greater or lesser extent by our actions. Woodland management is usually essential to achieve the best wildlife, landscape and timber benefits from woods. Spring woodland carpets of bluebells under majestic, ancient pollard trees would not exist without woodland management by humans. So when you are out walking in Thames Chase, look around you for signs of active woodland Management.

Little ancient woodland remains in the community forest, but what still exist is largely where there has been a long relationship with the gentry. From Norman times onwards, woodlands began to be protected, not for their own sake, but as a fortunate side effect of preservation of hunting grounds. Woodland fragments in Belhus Woods for instance have changed little since 1777.

Traditional sustainable management including coppicing provides high structural diversity where woodland consists of different aged patches that are fantastic for wildlife and encouraging a wide range of plant species growing on the forest floor. This in turn supports a healthy insect population. All coppicing products also have a use, ranging from twigs (or faggot) being used as fuel to spars and broaches for thatching, walking sticks, bean poles, fencing and logs for domestic fires. Many of these products are on sale in the Thames Chase Forest Centre.  

Following the retirement of Ann Bartleet as Chair, Thames Chase is now also taking part in The Great British Elm Experiment run by the Conservation Foundation to aid in the research of Dutch Elm Disease resistant Elms. 12 various British Elm sub species have been planted at the Forest Centre and are being monitored. To find out more, download the PDF located on the right hand side of this page.

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