Another ongoing project here at Petts Wood and Hawkwood is the removal of large quantities of invasive sycamore from Pond Wood.
Pond Wood, an ancient woodland named after the lilley pond which it surrounds, is a 10 hectare wood nestled in the South West corner of the estate. The wood is popular with dog walkers as it’s near the Gosshill Road entrance to the site, however since the 1950’s we have seen sycamore beginning to dominate the wood. Sycamore is native to central and southern Europe yet arrived in England at some time during the 16th century and has since become naturalised.
A survey conducted in 2010 found that sycamore had a 30% prevalence in Pond Wood. Historically the makeup of Pond Wood has been an oak, sweet chestnut and ash canopy, with hazel and alder in the understory with wood anenomies and bluebells in the field layer. Mindful of the ever increasing levels of sycamore in the woodland it was decided to embark on a four year work program to completely remove the tree from this small woodland.
This winter just gone was the second year of the four year programme. In the first, third and fourth years the work is being completed in-house, however this winter due to resource constraints the work was put out to forestry contractors. The benefit of using contractors is that we are now ahead of schedule with the removal and 70% of the sycamore in pond wood is gone. Sycamore removal can be a contentious subject and the results are immediately apparent in that the wood is far more open, advice received from the Forestry Commission and other sources such as the Woodland Trust suggest that especially in ancient woodland the removal is a “conservation necessity”. A benefit of removing so much of the canopy in the woods is that large areas of bluebells and wood anenomies are springing up and enjoying the extra sunlight.
To stop sycamore regrowth we are in the process of stump treatment using herbicides. There is no additional planting of native species, and we are allowing natural regeneration to take its course.
If you’re interested please take the opportunity to have a walk around Pond Wood and see for yourself the extent of the sycamore removal and the plentiful ground flora. As much of the timber as possible has been extracted which we are using for charcoal production and seasoning for log sales.