Woodlands in the Weald is a new guide published by the High Weald AONB Unit.
The High Weald, spanning West Kent, North Sussex and a small part of Surrey, has three times more woodland than the national average. And more than 70 per cent of it is ancient woodland - woods that have existed continuously since 1600 or before and contain rare ghylls.
The guide looks at how humans and nature have combined to create a unique wooded landscape that is a refuge for wildlife, rich in archaeology and valued for rural crafts, commerce and recreation.
AONB landscape adviser Matthew Pitt said: “Ancient semi-natural woodland is made up of native tree species and is the most ecologically rich and diverse habitat type in the UK.”
Much has been managed for centuries by skilled workers, using a rotational coppice system ensuring a renewable supply of wood was always available for charcoal, fencing and building materials.
Traditional coppicing is an important woodland management technique, creating a habitat that has vital biodiversity benefits. Many British flowering plants, mammals and insects thrive under this rotational system – some of the rarest species are now only found in working coppice.
The guide, which is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the High Weald Joint Advisory Committee’s Living Woods Project, also highlights the woodland that is accessible to the general public across the High Weald. For a free copy of the Woodlands in the Weald guide, please contact Samantha Nicholas at the High Weald AONB on: 01580 879960 or: firstname.lastname@example.org