New native woodland - Broadbalk and Geescroft Wildernesses

The Broadbalk and Geescroft Wildernesses are located at Rothamsted Experimental Station. They are developed by secondary succession on farmland abandoned in the 1880’s. They have both been surveyed at irregular intervals.

Broadbalk Wilderness

The Broadbalk Wilderness developed by natural colonisation following the abandonment of a small part of the large field used for the continuous wheat experiment.

Broadbalk Wilderness in 1996Although the Broadbalk Wilderness is well known and fairly well observed it is very small and in part barely more than a wide hedgerow (photo taken in 1996).

Broadbalk Wilderness is dominated by hawthorn with some oak, ash and sycamoreBroadbalk Wilderness is dominated by hawthorn with some oak, ash and sycamore.  The trees’ canopy casts a heavy shade and the ground flora is species poor with large amounts of ivy (photo taken in 1996).

Geescroft Wilderness

The Geescroft Wilderness is a small woodland that has developed by natural colonisation following the abandonment of land on which beans had been grown more or less continuously for 30 years.

Geescroft Wilderness in 1998In 1998 the overstorey of Geescroft Wilderness was dominated by oak and ash with occasional wild cherry and sycamore.

Geescroft understoreyHolly dominates the understorey at Geescroft  Wilderness with many impenetrable clumps throughout the woodland.  The ground flora is sparse with the majority of species being distributed around the margins of the site.