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Ancient and Native Woodlands in the West Midlands

West Midlands’ Ancient and Native Woodlands cover 39,817 hectares and range from numerous small, remnant woodlands under 10 hectares in size, to more substantial woods, for example the 150 hectare Queenswood Country Park in North Herefordshire.  At the upper end of the scale we have Birmingham City's 300 hectare Sutton Park urban woodland and Churnet Valley Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) at 343 hectares, and of course the Wyre Forest complex at some 2,500 hectares.  Many other Ancient and Native Woodlands are scattered accross the region with some forming distinctive 'Ancient Woodland Landscapes' (see pdf 800kb).

These sites are important to the region as wildlife habitat and recreational resources, but they face a variety of threats, including competition from introduced ‘alien’ species, such as rhododendron and Japanese knotweed, dense shading caused by plantation conifers, abandoned woodland management practices and overgrazing by deer.

In the Wyre the Grow with Wyre and the West Midlands Deer Related SSSI Partnership Project are helping look after this forest sustainably. The West Midlands Deer Related SSSI Partnership also works in Dinmore, Woolhope and the Lower Wye Valley.

 Ancient woodbank in Shrawley wood. Wyre Forest West Midlands FD
The National Policy for ancient woodlands ‘Keepers of Time’ points us towards three critical objectives for the West Midlands.  Firstly, the prevention of any further decline in ancient woodland by addressing the threats that they face.  Secondly, restoring the majority of the conifer plantations established on ancient sites back to native woodland.  Thirdly, creating more native woodland and other habitats to complement and buffer the surviving remnants of ancient woodland in the region.