Ancient Woodland

Woodland in Essex

Essex has woodland cover of 19,455ha of which 15,574ha is broadleaved and 1,523ha mixed. The area of ancient woodland in the county is 54% of total woodland cover 8619ha and for ASNW, 45% of all woodland in the county 7168ha. This equates to 5.3% woodland cover for the county, making Essex the second least wooded county in England.

Large ASNW blocks such as Epping Forest, which is over 2,000 ha, and many small areas, support a wealth of native species which vary in diversity according to soil type and management history. These large forest/woodland areas are major landscape features as well as providing the main centres for woodland recreational activities. In addition there are a significant number of small ASNWs providing landscape diversity in a predominantly arable region.

Woodland is not spread evenly across the county with the coastal districts such as Maldon and Tendring containing only 3% compared to those such as Brentwood and Epping Forest with 9% cover. The Nature Conservancy Council Ancient Woodland Inventory of 1982 compared the current woodland cover with the first edition Ordnance Survey maps. This showed a loss of 931 hectares from the 9503 hectares shown on the original maps. Of the remaining 8572 hectares 7200 hectares were considered to still comprise of semi-natural stand types, with 1372 hectares of plantations. There are East of England regional targets to create 6444 ha of new native woodland.

Project Work

EBP working with LoWs (Local Wildlife Sites) Officer, Essex Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers have delivered a woodland and deer management landowner workshop attended by Landowners, National Trust, Forestry Commission and Deer Initiative following the oxlip surveys, woodland condition assessments and deer monitoring of the top 50 oxlip sites in Essex.

EBP has provided advice and materials to RSPB and EWT to enter Copperas Wood, Tendring and Danbury Ridge, Maldon / Chelmsford into the National Dormouse Monitoring Scheme. Dormouse boxes have been supplied to Tiptree Heath and Hockley Woods.

EBP in conjunction with Natural England and Butterfly Conservation are providing advice on heath fritillary populations in Essex coppice woodlands to support site managers and improve monitoring.

EBP with EWT outreach staff and Darren Tansley, Roman River Living Landscape Indicator Lead have worked with Phillip Morant School to carryout Laurel removal at Friday Woods, LoWs and install Dormouse survey tubes at Roman River EWT reserve as part of an initiative for the school to become involved in the Roman River Living Landscape

EBP has carried out coppicing at Slough Wood, LoWs with LoWs Officer.