We’ve developed a future blueprint for these amazing woods with the help of experts from organisations like The Woodland Trust, Butterfly Conservation Group and The Sussex Wildlife Trust, as well as our own advisers and many other local groups and individuals.
We now have a woodland management plan that maps, designs and helps create our vision for how the wood could look for generations to come. This was formally agreed with the Forestry Commission in February 2017 and we have started acting on that. This has included two major harvesting efforts, the construction of a Forest Road – badly needed due to the very wet nature of the woods in winter, and new infrastructure such as toilets, storage and meeting-welfare space.
Vert Woods is part of a bigger 250-hectare site. In recent generations much of the hardwoods were felled and replaced with softwoods (like pine) for commercial gain. We are or plan to:
- thin out the poor quality and mature pine, selling it for wood chip, sawlogs and some higher value products
- encourage natural regeneration plus adding some planting of healthy, native hardwood trees
- control the large deer population who are eating away naturally regenerated trees
- enhance natural features like the wet areas, ponds, heathland and open areas
- bring small areas of chestnut back into active management
- respect natural archeological features, like streams, banks and ditches.
- develop a network of public access paths and other features
Pine clearance allows the light in, creates better habitats for birds and butterflies, improves safety and encourages the vitality of the remaining trees. It has also brought in some much-needed income.
Our team also has use of a portable sawmill to make benches, picnic tables, candle holders and coat hooks.
We’re evolving our business plan by testing out ideas, using pilot projects and feedback. We welcome local businesses and crafts people who would like to engage with us for products, building wood, and other projects.
Our goal is to create a viable social enterprise with jobs in areas like woodworking, health/wellbeing and nature-based experiences.