ENVIRONMENTAL WORK

WADHURST PARK

Wadhurst Park covers 689 hectares (1,703 acres) of ancient Sussex landscape – small fields and old woods, deeply cut by streams. It is within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We follow best practice guidelines for low-intensity farming and semi-natural habitat restoration and conservation. For example, we never use fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or peat. We do not drive on the fields. We do not disturb nesting birds and we have stopped killing “vermin” (magpies, crows, pigeons, squirrels, foxes, stoats, weasels, moles, and rabbits).

Click here for more information about our work.

RESTORATION

At the start, almost all fields were intensively managed pasture or ex-arable. The old coppice woods were unmanaged, and hedgerows had been grubbed out. Beginning in 1999, we have converted the fields to de facto organic grassland. We created hay meadows; fenced wood edges out of fields; re-established coppicing; and planted or naturally regenerated broadleaf woods. We developed wetlands; planted, laid and widened hedgerows; made glades and rides in our woods; and opened-up over-shadowed ponds.

As we restore hedgerows and old fields, re-establish lost woods, re-plant solitary trees, and make wetlands in old river meanders, our template is the first Ordnance Survey maps (1869-1875).

CONSERVATION

We practice evidence-led conservation, analysing our survey data and feeding the results back into practical management. We review our work, both on local and landscape scales, aiming to create and maintain diverse, healthy and connected habitats.

Since the beginning, we have seen nature respond. Butterflies thrive in the floriforous meadows and along woodland rides and glades; birds have increased in numbers and variety. Our amphibians are prospering in the chemical-free environment, while small mammals flourish in the long grass and shrubby hedgerows.

Local schools and clubs visit, as do walkers. We have created 10.6km (6.6 miles) of permissive paths that link a further 15.8km (9.8 miles) of bridleways and public footpaths.