Managing the Wild Wood

Walsham-le-Willows Wild Wood Group Logo

Although our intention is to create a woodland which both villagers and wildlife will see as a “wild wood” this does not mean that the area can just be left to its own devices.

Any useful habitat needs to be carefully managed and it is surprising how much work has to go into maintaining and developing most nature reserves.

Please help us in our work: take any litter home – clean up after your dog
but most of all . . . enjoy Walsham Wild Wood

Problems or Comments

Contact Richard Belson | 01359 258868

The Wild Wood group carries out roughly the same pattern of work each year

Cutting the Paths : usually starts in May but because this area has never been very
good for growing grass it will probably only be done 3 or 4 times each year. These paths
mean that people can walk through without getting wet feet, but it also has the effect of
encouraging people not to wander into those areas which we, (and the wildlife), would
prefer to keep undisturbed.

Controlling “Weeds” : we have welcomed most wild flowers to the Wood but we do
have problems with two visitors. Bristly Ox Tongue appears in huge numbers in late
summer and can appear to swamp the area; fortunately it is a biennial and as the trees
get bigger and the sward thicker it should become more difficult for the BOT to survive.
Creeping Thistle is more of a problem; it can spread quite quickly and although it’s good
for some insects and seed eating birds it is pretty unpleasant and does not go well with
children. We therefore have to spray thistles which are next to the paths and the

Autumn Mowing : if wild flowers and insects are going to thrive we must not allow the
flowers to get swamped and crowded out by grasses. Therefore every autumn after the
flowers have seeded we hire a mowing machine and cut all the paths, the rides and the
various clearings. Most wild flowers thrive in poor soils and so we then rake off the
grass cuttings to stop any nutrients going back into the ground; the grass is piled into
heaps which can hopefully provide some shelter for insects, reptiles and small

Winter Maintenance : this is the planting season, but we have now put in over one
thousand eight hundred trees and shrubs and the task is virtually finished. We need to
prune trees to improve their shape, to trim some shrubs, and to manage the tree guards.
Lightly trimming shrubs gives a denser growth which is more attractive to birds in that
it provides better shelter and more nesting sites. Originally we put guards on everything
we planted but there have thankfully been no problems with rabbits and so many spirals
were removed to encourage more outward growth and cover low down. Our problem
animal is the muntjac: they sometimes bite the ends of shoots, but fortunately tend to go
for shrubs that actually benefit from random pruning; the more serious problem is
territorial marking – the deer have scent glands on their heads and mark by thrashing
saplings at a height of about 60cm. – tree guards are then needed to avoid further

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