Tree Felling on Naphill Common

Introduction

Phase 1 2014 September to February 2015. Photographs before work started, during felling and clearing up

Phase 2 2017 Autumn - dates to be confirmed

Phase 3 2019 dates to be confirmed

Introduction

A Woodland Improvement Grant has been given to the West Wycombe Estate to carry out felling on Naphill Common. The felling will be carried out by Wessex Woodland under guidance from the Forestry Commission England and Natural England. Thinning will promote the understory and younger trees, this will be done at varying density within the area. Care will be taken not to damage the retained trees and shrubs. Up to 20% may remain open after thinning, associated with ride edges or junctions and woodland edges, to promote open ground species. Where old trees are present these will be given additional space, by removing competing trees from under their canopies gradually and providing sufficient room to promote a healthy crown.

Rides will be widened to an average width of 15 meters. The ride width will be varied to create an irregular edge, providing changes in air flow along the rides to favour butterfly populations. Broadleaved trees of good form and historical and cultural importance are to be retained to provide varied habitat with a mix of dapple shade and sunlight along the length of the ride. The felling will be carried out by two men who have a great deal of experience in working in sensitive areas and SSSI's.

We know that the impending felling on the Common is causing concern and it will certainly make a huge difference. The friends of Naphill Common cannot stop the felling but we have been trying to influence what form it takes and ensure that it gives the maximum benefit and does the minimum harm. At last the plans are becoming clearer. The felling will be done in phases. Phase 1 will start in September and end at Christmas, when the results will be assessed and the next phase planned.

We are told that the felling will remove about 30% of the trees and the work along the paths will clear back the holly and scrub. The result will be more open woodland, wider paths and less smothered ponds, so there should be definite benefits. We may even have an open area in which to reintroduce our juniper cuttings. We are negotiating with Natural England about a long-term management plan including a detailed programme for the ponds.

Obviously, there are mixed opinions about all this. Some will not want the Common touched but, given that permission has been granted by Natural England, it is important that we get the best possible outcome for the Common and for those who enjoy it. There are several positive aspects: we will have wider, more open rides; the fine trees will be saved and relieved of competition from the smaller specimens; the ponds will be opened up and should prosper with more light, and the few remaining junipers will be given a chance to survive. We should achieve a healthier, more bio-diverse common with an open area for the return of the juniper cuttings taken from the surviving old bushes. There are worries: we want to ensure that there is an enduring management plan that stops the rides reverting to scrub once more and which keeps the holly in check, and we want permission from Natural England to allow us to return the ponds to health.

Over all, it is a positive picture. If all goes well Naphill Common will emerge from years of neglect and will be cared for in a way that preserves its ecology and ensures that we can enjoy it into the future.

If there are any questions or problems please contact a FONC committee member, especially Trevor Hussey 563767 and Philip Hussey 562023. For serious problems or emergencies contact the Wessex Woodland Management office on 01488 685007 or email to info@wessexwoodland.com

Phase 2

It has been confirmed that Phase 2 of the felling and glade widening on the Common will start this coming autumn.  The map with this article shows the area concerned.  It has been changed from an earlier map and now it seems that most of the Iron Age “farmstead” will not be included.  We recently walked over the area with David Hunt of Wessex Woodland Management (WWM) and picked out features that need to be preserved or protected from any heavy machinery.  Most of the significant trees that we want preserved have already been marked with a (temporary) green spray and the rest will be done during the summer.  WWM will fell only a selection of the less important trees, including those that need to be removed so as to widen the glades, and those that are judged to be in a dangerous state.  They will also clear some areas of holly and strim the glades so as to remove scrub and some of the bracken, in the same way that was done during the first phase of felling, with the aim of letting in more light and helping the grasses return.   

WWM have also agreed to remove much of the great beech that has fallen into Dew Pond.  They will extract most of the branches and that part of the main trunk that is in the pond.  The lower part that lies on the bank of the pond will be left, and it is this that contains the rare fungus Hericium erinaceus.  The aim is to return the pond to its full glory while preserving as much of the great beech as possible – all without damaging the pond, the fungus or the ditch of the Iron Age farmstead!  If you have any concerns please contact a member of the FONC committee.

Phase 2 work map

 

Phase 1

Phase 1 will be restricted to a strip along the edge of the Common where it abuts The Coppice (i.e. Bradenham Woods owned by the National Trust). It will extend from (but not include) The Clumps to the boundary with The Piggery and the allotment gardens. Its width will taper from the corner of the field at Bradenham Farm (where the little shop used to be) and widen out to include Heyshams and over to the end of Forge Road. In addition Phase 1 will include working along three major paths. One is the path H12/BW84 that runs parallel with the village edge of the Common about 100 yards in from the boundary, from the end of Forge Road to The Plain. The second is the Broad Path H21 running from The Plain to Dew Pond. The third is the section of H2/BW85 which runs from Dew Pond towards The Clumps. The area and paths include six of our seven ponds and one of our four remaining juniper bushes. The timber will be piled up beside the track near the end of Forge Road and will remain there for up to a year before being removed.

Phase 1 work map

FONC has been asked to mark both the significant trees that we want to save (with a green band) and any that we would like removed (with a red cross). As you may have noticed, we have already put red crosses and numbers on several trees around the ponds. These will be felled to let in more light and so allow the ponds to recover. We have also put green bands on significant trees throughout the Phase 1 area. The result is a bit of an eyesore but we are using special paint which, we are assured, washes off eventually. If anyone has a favourite tree please tell one of the FONC committee members.

Photographs taken (September 2014) before work started:-

Ash Pond

Clumps H18

Clumps H2

Dew Pond

Forge Road

Hayshams H18

Junction H12-H21

Junction H18-H19

Junction H18-H20

Junction H19-H21

Junction H1-H19

Junction H1-H21

Junction H2-H20

Junction H2-H21

Junction H5-H21

Juniper H2

Lady Horse Pond H18

Opposite Jubilee Cottage

Opposite Piggery

Power Lines H19

Shipwash Pond

Small Pond

Willow Pond

Phase 3

Information to follow when available