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NEWS RELEASE No: 700215 OCTOBER 2004


MISSION ACCOMPLISHED


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Forester Steve Knight is celebrating this week after tugging out the last Douglas fir from his woodland, near Biggleswade.

He made his promise to clear Potton Wood of conifers four years ago.

That was when the Forestry Commission embarked upon an historic project involving 7,000 hectares, in 77 woods across seven counties.

Their Ancient Woodland Project (AWP) was the biggest scheme of its kind ever attempted in eastern England.

Mr. Knight, said: “Our pledge was to restore these sites to the way they would have been in medieval times.

“Completing the whole process will take years yet as the conifer forests gradually transform into semi-natural native woodlands.

“It’s fantastic to see that in Potton at least the removal of the non-native tree species is done at last.”

“And it’s already making a huge difference to the wood, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.”

Mr. Knight said that where the old plantation trees stood were now naturally regenerating broadleaved species.

He said that in the new sunlit glades that had been created, seed banks of wild flowers were coming back to life. The rare oxlip was now increasing in abundance in the wood while elsewhere in country it was in decline.

He added that birds and insects were benefiting too as new food plants and breeding habitats emerged.

His plans for the site include widening the rides to give the wood an airy feel for walkers together with much better views for them to enjoy.

An ancient craft will also make a comeback – coppicing will create even more wildlife habitats as well as producing valuable wood for charcoal burning.

Anyone wanting information about walks in Potton Wood should ring 01780 444394.

Details of all Forestry Commission woods in the region with public access can be found on the www.forestry.gov website.

NOTES TO EDITORS

For further information please contact Miss Cheryl Joyce, Forestry Commission Education Ranger, on 01780 444394.
e-mail: cheryl.joyce@forestry.gsi.gov.uk