Wild trees and natural woods


I am working through my bookshelf, for want of anything better, and been fascinated at how much more I’ve got on second reading. An ever increasing knowledge allows me to see more in these books than I did before, but with some authors – especially Richard Mabey and his book Beechcombings (1) – it’s because I seem unwittingly to have trodden a similar path of inquiry in seeking to unravel the innateness of wild nature. Thus Mabey looks for a reflection of nature in art, the natural beauty captured without artifice or conceit, and in which the Picturesque of William Gilpin moves its depiction away from the philosophy of the Sublime, and towards the joy of its natural beauty (2). Mabey also alights on Gainsborough’s best known-portrait of an English wood – Cornard Wood, near Sudbury Suffolk - but is swayed in his interpretation of its components by an assumption that it is common land, and would thus not have had the tall oaks of high forest that it portrays. This is sufficient for him to conclude that the wood is fictitious, a studio painting from Gainsborough’s “softened memories of Suffolk”. Maybe so, but as I have pointed out, what ties that woodland scene to a location at Great Cornard, is the excavation of clay depicted in the woodland, and a contemporary connection with the hand making of tiles and bricks at nearby Bulmer (2).

Mabey perambulates the 19th century unravelling of enclosure, disafforestation, commons rights and public access in which Hainault and Epping Forests loomed large, noting Edward North Buxton’s distaste for the pollards at Epping, and not sharing Oliver Rackham’s pessimism about its present state and likely future. Instead, he counters the indeterminate time in the past that Rackham and others seek for Epping Forest, when it was “pickled by management”, with a hope that its release from that management - unfortunately, re-imposed recently (3) - will have brought its “own particular beauty, and the undeniable, vital fascination of naturalness – wildness – as a process”. He also navigates the natural dynamism of woodland, having George Peterken as his guide to the non-intervention of Lady Park Wood, when I had to leg it over the fence (4). Mabey points to the hyperbolic inconsistencies of Frans Vera’s model of woodland succession (5) and the lessons drawn from the Great Storm of October 1987 (6) that he considered showed that natural disturbance was entirely normal, without the need for the “magic wand” of herbivores to regenerate woodlands:
“Even after the storm in 1987, the considerable gaps opened up in native woods were rapidly colonised by natural tree seedlings without the help of so much as a single auroch”

Unthinking historical reflex

Where I am uncompromising, challenging, to get a point across, Mabey in Beechcombings is influencing, coaxing, persuasive. Thus he allows that coppices are an ingenious human invention, inspired by a natural process, prolonging the life of the tree, the flush of light every ten years doing wonders for spring flowers. However, he is right to point out that coppicing should not be done as an unthinking historical reflex – “this is what has always been done” and which is always said of Bradfield Wood in Suffolk (7); that coppicing is far from natural (8) has no equivalent or prototype in nature, and is at the expense of two-thirds of a wood’s natural life:
“Plants and animals that depend on high canopies, or on old and decaying wood, or permanent shade, simply don’t survive in worked coppice. These are all important components of ‘natural’ woodland. Permanent shade may seem inimical to plant life, but there are whole groups of mosses and fungi which are dependent on it. Dead and rotting wood provides crucial habitats for insects, under bark, in rot- holes, ranging along the dried-out tunnels inside hollow trunks. And since ‘fallow’ wood may make up half the woody mass inside an unmanaged forest, large numbers of organisms have evolved as dependent on it. There is usually next to no dead wood in a worked coppice, nor any oasis of shade which lasts more than a decade”

His is a first hand experience of woods, from the challenges of ownership of Hardings Wood in the Chilterns, his reflection on the vision he had for that woodland, the thought processes he went through at that time to justify his initial interventions, and how his experiences of walking other woodlands were brought back to Hardings. From those woodlands, he learns what ensues from natural processes, and how large-scale sudden natural disturbance is a trigger. The Great Storm of 1987 was but one; the massive landslip on the Dorset coast in 1839 another, and which was followed by the development on that new undercliff of scrub and the pioneering of ash, field maple and hazel, intertwined with ivy and wild clematis. As I also found, when I walked the Axmouth-Lyme Regis Undercliff, that it has become "one of the wildest woods in England" since its separation from agricultural pressure was launched by that slump over 150 years ago (9).

Mabey traces the origins of the réserve biologiques in the Forest of Fontainebleau as deriving from the creation of réserves artistiques in 1853, areas first protected in the forest from commercial exploitation so that the important subjects of the Barbizon school of landscape painters were preserved. While suffering from some forestry modernisation over the 20th century, the essential natural value of the Série Artistiques was recognised when in 1973, a set of forest biological reserves were designated from with in it, some of which are strictly protected (Réserve Biologique Intégrale (10)). One of these is La Tillae, which Mabey visited one Autumn, and which confounded his expectation of a beech forest, based as it was on his experiences in England. This was an old forest, with 250-year old beech, but there were no pollards, and so the uncut trees towered above him. In amongst those towering trees were others in various stages of fungal dieback, their tops lost, the dead wood strewn around. Arising through this debris came young beech of all ages, leading Mabey to conclude that “La Tillae, with its straight uncut beeches and gaps full of young trees, may be the most authentically natural beechwood in Northern Europe”

As he walked out of La Tillae, Mabey came across a notice board that said that it was a strict non-intervention zone, and that the public were not allowed to enter. My mistake last year was in contacting the Office National des Foréts beforehand about walking the strict reserves in Fontainebleau, and being told “Non. L'accès est interdit”. And so I walked the woodland reserves of Ireland instead, where I was more certain of access to those publicly owned lands (11). I am less circumspect closer to home, having had a rare opportunity recently to have a look around Bushy Hazels and Cwmma Moors, an ancient woodland SSSI (12) in Herefordshire that is listed in A Nature Conservation Review (13). The Review was initiated in 1965 by the Nature Conservancy. Edited by Derek Ratcliffe, its Chief Scientist, it was published by successor body, the Nature Conservancy Council, in 1977 and was represented as a reference book of 735 important biological sites for nature conservation. It would also act as a guide for acquisition of nature reserves as well as for locations in need of site protection (14). I find it a useful resource, as it lists over 200 graded examples of woodlands across Britain, as well as other habitat types with natural and semi-natural vegetation.

Trashed by the heavy machinery

There is no public access to Bushy Hazels and Cwmma Moors, but it is owned by the National Trust, and I was staying in one of their properties on the farm near the woodland. I followed the course of a beck in a dingle until it reached the woodland, and then sneeked in. The 30ha woodland is Grade 2 in the Review list (W.126) only slightly less significant than having national importance, and is cited as an example of a mixed deciduous woodland characteristic of the Welsh borders. Cwmma Moors is the main part of the woodland, with the description saying that ash is the most abundant tree in the canopy, but that there is also wych elm as a co-dominant and some oak and birch. The understorey and shrub layers are described as not well developed throughout, because of previous management, but what caught my eye in the listing was the apparently rich and varied ground vegetation.

It was a wet woodland, very wet in places, and with a number of small watercourses running W-E, as well as the deep, wooded valley watercourse inside its southern edge that emerges into the wooded finger of Pentre Coed Dingle. It was pity that I could not have been there a few weeks later, as it has a fabulous ground layer: wood anemone, lesser celandine, dog’s mercury, moschatel and primrose were all just starting to flower. There was also the leafy evidence of wild garlic, golden saxifrage, pendulous sedge, dog violet, woodruff, bluebells, bugle and meadow sweet to come – and the listing told of herb paris and sanicle, adding to the already impressive array of Ancient Woodland Indicator plants (15). The bryophytes (mosses) were abundant, and there was hearts tongue and the herbaceous ferns. Scarlet Elf Cup and Jelly Ear fungi added to the general luxuriance. The canopy was mostly big towering ash with oak dotted through, wych elm and with locally abundant alder in the wettest places. There was not much of a shrub layer other than hazels and a few dog roses. There were no footpaths, but I made my way on critter trails forged by the badgers that have a big sett a little way in from where the dingle enters the woodland, and also by roe deer, their resting scrapes dotted around. Then I came across the one access track and, walking across it, two large recently felled areas in the other section of the woodland, all of which were a disgraceful mess. They were especially blighted for me by the presence of lean-too step-up high seats lashed to trees, and which are used in the culling of deer (16).

It was obvious that the access track had been trashed by the heavy machinery that had been brought in to do the felling. In the wood over the track, it was a little difficult to walk through and avoid seeing the two big felled open areas, and it demonstrated what nonsense the Woodland Grant Scheme funding that I knew covered the wood had been used for. As I came back out onto the track on the way back, I surprised someone else in there, who turned out to be an ecologist who had been walking the woods for years and who was crushed by what the National Trust had recently been doing. He explained that the new “coppice areas” had been clear felled at the wrong time of the year, for fear of losing the funding, and in the process trashing the ground layer in the felled areas and making a mess of the track. What madness was this that fails to meet any objectives? Felling to coppice at this scale had no apparent historical precedence in this part of the wood – it is Bushy Hazels, separated from Cwmma Moors in the N by one of those water courses, that is described in the Review listing as hazel coppice (13) and as relict hazel coppice in the SSSI notification (12). As well as being anathema to a woodland plant like herb paris, if it even survived the mechanical damage, this clearance is ruinous to the dormice present. The new growth expected in the clearings had been too attractive to roe deer and, unprotected, it had fallen to their increasing presence in the wood, and to which culling had made little difference. Oak was being removed by the National Trust to leave ash only as the canopy tree, a disastrous consequence to come, given the threat that ash dieback will pose to this wood (6).

Expectations of a natural wood

On purchasing Hardings Wood, Mabey admits that he wanted it to conform to his expectations of a natural wood, and if that meant doing unnatural things in the process, he was quite prepared to speed things up, such as creating woodland glades that would be flush with spring flowers, and clear fell other areas with the expectation of the next generation of beech trees shooting upwards, all signs of the incorrigible urge in humans to manage nature, or as Mabey sees it, that “we are all compulsive fidgeters with trees – unless we make a conscious cultural decision to step back from them”. In review, he considers his interventions in Hardings added to its floral variety, but some of the clearings did not lead to his expected outcome, as wild nature took other trajectories. He thus recognises that care for the natural world is an emotional commitment, but it is “a treacherous emotion, apt to slip into a sense of custodianship, and then of possessiveness, into a habit of seeing the natural world as not just in need of protection, but unable to thrive without our help”. By the end of Beechcombings, Mabey states more clearly a thesis that must sit uncomfortably with the contemporary view of the conservation industry:
“The idea - still argued by some conservationists — that all woods must be managed is as arrogant and outrageous as suggesting that all wild animals should be in zoos. Managed woods reflect too simplistically our own limited skills and horizons. Wild, unmanaged, trees show us possibilities beyond our cultural tunnel-vision”

A recent meeting of the Executive Board of Natural England sheds light on the tunnel-vision of this managerial impulse (17). At issue was the inconvenient evidence that a population of nightingale in Kent had arisen on the back of an area of developing scrub, anathema to the nature conservation embodied in SSSI designations. The Executive Board wanted to know to what extent the nightingales were dependent on that transitional habitat, and asked for clarification on what would happen to the bird population if the scrub was not managed, as scrub is usually managed out on SSSIs. They also wondered whether it was likely that scrub will become a more frequent habitat included within SSSIs in the future. Allan Drewitt, Natural England’s Senior Ornithologist, indicated that the numbers of nightingales associated with woodland habitat had decreased at the same time that there had been an increase in numbers associated with scrub habitat, but he ventured that that was because the quality of woodland has declined. This is normally a shorthand accusation of a lack of woodland management. However, coppiced woodland does not have the complex spatial vegetation mosaics as some scrub, and thus offers less suitable habitat for nightingales than scrub that has a dense woody understorey vegetation, often enclosing or close to bare ground that is their foraging habitat, and which is important for their singing and concealment (18). On the other questions, Drewitt confirmed that many SSSI habitats are transitional, but the nature of those habitats should not mean that they be excluded from notification as SSSI. He then condemned those transitional habitats to the compulsive fidgeters:
“With a few exceptions, such as some ancient woodlands (where ‘non-intervention’ approaches have been adopted) and coastal habitats, the majority of SSSI habitats rely on management”

Excessive dedication to the dogma of woodland management

If only more ancient woodlands were unmanaged, because it is certainly not the case for Cwmma Moors, nor is it the case for Grass Wood in the Yorkshire Dales. At the beginning of last year, I gave the award for STINKING UP A WOODLAND to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for it’s excessive dedication to the dogma of woodland management in Grass Wood (19). After visiting Grass Wood last week, they are again recipients of this award for a second year in a row. To understand the full measure of my objection to what goes on in this woodland, you need to know that Grass Wood was one of 284 sites identified in 1915 as “worthy of preservation” on a list drawn up by the Society for Promotion of Nature Reserves (SPNR) (20). Data collection for the list was by questionnaire sent to members of the Society, and to local natural history groups. There had also been a letter sent in 1914 to the journal Nature by Ray Lankester, an invertebrate zoologist and leading member of the SPNR (21). It contained an appeal to forestall the continuing destruction by man of “the beautiful wild animals and plants of the world” by preserving some of the “little scattered fragments of our great mother’s handiwork…. even in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, so that future Britons may not utterly curse us, but enjoy, with gratitude to those who saved them, the precious living relics of the world as it was before man destroyed it”

The clear inference of Lankester’s rhetoric was that wildness was to be found where human influence was limited or absent, in locations that “retain their primitive conditions”. Like many people since, and including myself (4) Lankester considered that the most wild place – “the real wilderness” - was to be found on a sea-shore bounded by sand dunes and marsh lands, or inaccessible rocky coastal cliffs retaining its natural vegetation, the shore protected by the sea at high tide, and which is exposed as the tides withdraw from the rocks and pools.

It was proposed by the SPNR to secure by purchase or gift as many as possible of the "invaluable surviving haunts of nature”, handing them over to the National Trust, whose legislative foundation under the 1907 Act allowed it to declare land holdings as inalienable. However, the transfer would be “with the necessary conditions imposed by the Society as to the absolute preservation of their natural conditions. No doubt there may be some care needed in arranging for the occasional admission of visitors to these reserved lands”

The information required for each of the sites on the list included, as well as ownership, whether the suggested area was worthy of permanent preservation by virtue of being a “piece of typical primeval country” or whether it was a site for scarce birds or plants, or if there was some geological interest. The original SPNR survey document for Grass Wood has it as No. 196, in the ownership of the Duke of Devonshire, and that it was “woods” with no other amplification of the reasons for its inclusion. The accompanying map dated 1910 shows the extent of Grass Wood, and it was probably that extent then, as it is today, that marks it out in a Yorkshire Dales landscape that has little woodland, and not much of any great size. What we do know is that it was a working wood, as it was intensively exploited as a source of fuel for the nearby lead industry (22,23). The remains of chop kilns or elling hearths can still be seen as shallow, oval pits through out the wood, these simple kilns being used to dry small diameter timber from coppicing, to produce chop wood or white coal a very combustible product for the roasting of lead ores from mines further up the valley in Wharfedale. We also know that during the later 19th century, access to the woodland by local people was hotly contested with its owner the Duke of Devonshire. The whole woodland is a commons registered for rights of estovers, the collection of fallen wood for the commoners personal use as firewood (24,25) but it is likely that more people than those holding the rights of estovers sought access to the wood, and to take from the wood. Since Grass Wood is a registered common, and thus is shown now as having open public access, then Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is more than disingenuous in asserting that access is by way of permissive footpaths in the woodland (26).

A description of Grass Wood is included in a listing for Conistone Old Pasture and Bastow Wood, Yorkshire (W.143) in Ratcliffe’s A Nature Conservation Review, which has it as “closed woodland mainly of ash, wych elm, and hazel with calcicolous shrubs such as privet, buckthorn, whitebeam, considerably invaded by sycamore” and notes that it was undergoing re-afforestation “mostly on a shelter wood system, but locally by clear felling and replanting with conifers” (13). The main feature of the site is given as the herbaceous flora, which is described as outstandingly rich, and which includes the woodland geophytes herb paris and angular Solomon's-seal. It notes that the woods of the area are known as a locality for another geophyte, the very rare Lady’s Slipper Orchid, rare because of its removal by plant collectors. You wont see any contemporary reference to the presence of that orchid, nor was it in the SSSI notifications from the mid-1980s when Grass Wood, Bastow Wood and Conistone Old Pasture were separately designated, evidence of a policy of absurd secrecy, considering the plant is reputedly guarded around the clock when in flower (27). The SSSI notification for Grass Wood does list a rich ground flora, for which it says the site is principally valued, and which "has persisted" in spite of the interplanting of the lower slopes during the 19th century with beech and sycamore, and the replanting with conifers noted in the Ratcliffe listing and which the SSSI notification says was carried out in the 1960’s with Scots Pine, larch and spruce (28). Indeed the Ratcliffe listing has it that the “afforestation program may ultimately reduce the variety to some extent, but most species and the general richness of the habitat are expected to survive”

There is one more listing for Grass Wood I want to mention, that arises out of a 15 year research project coordinated by John Rodwell at Lancaster University to develop a classification system for the natural and semi-natural vegetation of Britain. The National Vegetation Classification (NVC) for woodlands and scrub was published in 1991, and takes a phytosociological approach, classifying vegetation solely on the basis of the plant species of which it is composed (29). The resulting communities can usually be correlated to other factors, especially geology and soils, age and management, but it is just the plant species that are used to assign the vegetation to a community. The NVC woodland classification was based on 2,648 samples from ancient and recent woods throughout Britain, and from which have arisen 18 main woodland types and seven scrubs or underscrubs, most of which are divided further to give a total of 73 sub-communities (30). Grass Wood was one of those reference woods and, as would be expected for woodland on limestone, its NVC listing shows that it has both of the ash woodland communities - W8 and W9 - some of which are mixes of the sub-communities of W8 based on the local variation in the other tree species present, and which vary according to the moisture level, and to the shrub and groundlayer species present (31,32). There are also two of the three beech woodland communities – W12 and W14.

This NVC listing is, of course, a very misleading representation of Grass Wood, firstly because the relative contribution of each community to the overall area of the wood is not given; it obviously does not identify the conifer planting because the non-native conifer species are not recognised as contributing to any of the NVC woodland communities, but the non-native sycamore is (32); it does identify beech communities even though these were planted, and are unlikely to have ever been a native distribution away from the south of England (33) but it does not identify the areas of Scots Pine that have also been planted and which is recognised as a native community in the NVC, although like the beech it is away from its native distribution.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust bought a small part of Grass Wood in 1972 from a “private forestry concern” (26). The Trust subsequently leased two other small areas for several years, at Dewbottom Scar and Far Gregory, before buying the remaining area of the wood in 1983. Thus while they have had control of the woodland for at least 30 years, it seems to me that the pace of management in the woodland has accelerated over the last five years, a re-industrialisation. The location and extent of hazel coppicing has coincided with Woodland Grant Scheme funding covering the lower slopes and, in the absence of many mature trees, has markedly diminished the woodland feel in this area, as it is now also doing as the locus of coppicing moves further up the woodland, leaving in its wake large piles of the coppice brash stacked up against tree trunks. Isn’t this an unthinking historical reflex when the woodland is not particularly noted for so-called coppicing plants, those plants alleged to have adapted in response to human management, rather than the dog’s mercury, herb paris, lords and ladies, wild garlic, green hellebore (and perhaps lily of the valley) of Grass Wood that are unresponsive or harmed by it (34). The last few dormant seasons have also seen an acceleration in removal of conifers, including the Scots Pine, the disregard again for the feel of the woodland consistent with the heavy handed approach of a contractor. In addition, other areas have been worked through, singling ash trunks and felling others and logging up the trunks, in what defies logic and diminishes woodland character unless seen from the perspective of a plantation forester and an industrialised woodland. If it was the intention to remove the conifers, why allow them to grow on for 30 years when they would be a much larger proposition to remove?

Is this the wildlife trust imposing their dogmatic view, wanting the woodland to conform to an expectation, fulfilling the partial story of the NVC communities, a high risk strategy for any woodland now, when there is a probability that the ash communities are going to be wiped out? If that is the case, then the wildlife trust has had at least 30 years in which to effect change at a more considered rate, rather than cover its ineptness with signs proclaiming “All this sudden management activity may look savage to the untutored eye, but there is a lot of neglect to remedy”. This is not the ethos in which Lankester and the SPNR framed the network of reserves in which Grass Wood was included. I doubt that Lankester would have viewed this wood yard scene as being where there are still lovely bits of forest….. where nature is still allowed to pursue her own way without the arrogant interference of that prodigiously shameless barbarian, the “civilised” man”. Does this not bring in to question whether contemporary wildlife trusts are to be trusted, when to steward woodland nature absolutely demands a sensitivity within a longer term?

Spanning 50 years and more

There is an area of woodland below Grass Wood that backs on to the River Wharfe, and which has been owned by the Woodland Trust since the mid-90s. Lower Grass Wood is an ancient woodland site, dominated by planted sycamore dating to approximately 1890, with occasional planted larch and beech, and with frequent mature ash and oak and a developing understorey of regenerating thorn, ash, birch, oak and beech (35). Regeneration in the woodland has increased rapidly over the last decade, making a considerable difference to the woodland and its feel. Thus the Woodland Trust recognises the opportunity to retain broadleaved woodland on this site through encouraging natural regeneration to restock it, its long term policy for the woodland being to maintain high forest:
“The majority of the woodland will be managed through minimum intervention, allowing the on-going rapid senescence of mature trees which will continue to provide the opportunity for ample broadleaved regeneration, creating and maintaining a diversity of age structure within the woodland. Areas of restocking from 1998, now sufficiently established, as well as areas of dense regeneration will also be managed as minimum intervention, allowing the most natural succession of woodland possible within the site”

Lower Grass Wood is also a reference wood for the NVC, the listing showing just one community – W8 ash woodland (31). Fortunately, the Woodland Trust are not taking this listing as a guiding principle, since its long term objective for the wood, spanning 50 years and more, recognises the reality of the wood as it is, a refreshing contrast to the slavish dogma of the approach of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust:
“The woodland will be managed through minimum intervention towards a mixed broadleaved high forest of predominantly ash with oak, although containing non-native species including beech and sycamore”

Mabey would approve of the recognition of natural regeneration for the restocking of Lower Grass Wood. He remarks in Beechcombings that we seem to have forgotten that trees have reproductive systems, that they “produce new generations entirely of their own accord, just as they have done in Britain since the last Ice Age”. He points to the woods of oak, ash and sycamore that erupt along railway embankments, and the birches that bristle across heathland the moment grazing stops:
“Trees are irrepressible, a fact that conservationists tacitly acknowledge by spending much of their time hacking them down, scything young hawthorns and oaks from downland and willow groves from fens”

As I have explained before, this is the constant dirty war that is fought by the conservation industry in their chosen need to undo the choices that wild nature makes in regenerating a natural landscape cover (36). It is a credo within the conservation industry that this natural habitat restoration of scrubby growth and trees is of little value. However, Mabey makes an argument that more and more are making, that since self sprung trees have chosen where they want to grow, and in the conditions that suit them, then their clumpings and scatter and mixed ages are more natural, and do not need the damaging burden of human expectation. A century ago, Lankester saw the “rare and over-powering charm” of places where man has not yet irretrievably befouled, and from which he has not yet driven by assault nor removed by slaughter the beautiful living things which nature has guided and nurtured in their seclusion”. Mabey goes to the heart of it today when he says:
Wild trees and natural woods, untouched by (though not un-entered by) humans are, I believe, essential to the planet’s survival”

Mark Fisher 12 April 2013

(1) Mabey, R. (2007) Beechcombings: The Narrative of Trees. Chatto & Windus


(2) Forest, Rocks, Torrents. Self-willed land October 2011


(3) The natural aspect - Epping Forest and Rock Creek Park, Self-willed land November 2012


(4) Wild Pear Beach - how wild is it? Self-willed land April 2011


(5) The revisionism of the conservation industry – expanding the noosphere in Britain, Self-willed land March 2012


(6) Saying goodbye to ash, December 2012


(7) Gardening for nature - management of our national nature reserves, Self-willed land August 2006


(8) Nature as a product, Self-willed land August 2007


(9) Walking the wild places, Self-willed land September 2010


(10) Biological Reserve (Biological Reserve full/ Biological Reserve directed) LAW AND POLICY OF NATURE - Technical Papers No. 78. Legal Tools for the protection of natural areas. 2005, updated 2011. L’Atelier technique des espaces naturels.


(11) Wild Nephin – future natural wilderness in Ireland, Self-willed land August 2012


(12) Bushy Hazels & Cwmma Moors SSSI Citation Natural England


(13) A Nature Conservation Review: Volume 2, Site Accounts: The Selection of Biological Sites of National Importance to Nature Conservation in Britain, Ed Ratcliffe, D.A. Cambridge University Press 1977


(14) Peter Marren (2002) Nature Conservation - A Review of the Conservation of Wildlife in Britain 1950-2001. Harper Collins


(15) Glaves, P. et al (2009) Appendix 4 Species listed on Ancient woodland Lists. In A Survey of the Coverage, Use and Application of Ancient Woodland Indicator Lists in the UK. A Report to the Woodland Trust


(16) Culling High Seats, The Deer Initiative England and Wales Best Practice Guide 2009


(17) Proposal for SSSI notification – Chattenden Woods and Lodge Hill, Kent, Natural England Executive Board Minutes, 11 March 2012


(18) Hewson, CM & Fuller, RJ (2012) Factors Potentially Affecting the Viability and Success of Biodiversity Offsetting to Compensate for Nightingale Habitat Loss. The British Trust for Ornithology,


(19) Contemplation of natural scenes, Self-willed land January 2012


(20) The Rothschild Reserves, The Wildlife Trusts


(21) Lankester, E.R. (1914) Nature reserves, Nature 93: 33-35


(22) John Crowther (1930) Silva Gars, (Grass Wood) Grassington. Its History, Antiquities, Ancient Footpaths, Wild Flowers and Wild Life Together with a Guide to Twenty-Seven Interesting Walks in the District with Map and Illustrations. Wadsworth & Company, The Rydal Press Keighley

(23) Heward, J. Chopwood Kilns, Upper Wharfedale Heritage Group


(24) Grass Wood: Common land located in Grassington, Craven, North Yorkshire.


(25) The Common Lands of North Yorkshire - A Biological Survey Rural Surveys Research Unit (University of Wales, Aberystwyth) 2002


(26) Grass Wood Nature Reserve, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust


(27) The secret garden, Roger Ratcliffe, Guardian 21 June 2007


(28) Grass Wood SSSI citation Natural England


(29) British Plant Communities. Volume 1. Woodlands and scrub. Rodwell, J.S. ed Cambridge University Press 1991


(30) National vegetation classification field guide to woodland, JNCC


(31) Woodland NVC types


(32) Hall, J.E., Kirby, K.J., Whitbread, A.M., (revised 2004), National vegetation classification field guide to woodland, JNCC


(33) Bolte, A., Czajkowski, T. & Kompa, T. (207) The north-eastern distribution range of European beech—a review. Forestry 80: 413-429.


(34) Rackham, O. (2006) Woodlands. Collins New Naturalist Library, Book 100


(35) Lower Grass Wood Management Plan 2011-2016, Woodland Trust


(36) Cutting down trees to restore open habitats – only now a policy emerges, Self-willed land March 2009



www.self-willed-land.org.uk  mark.fisher@self-willed-land.org.uk