West Sussex ancient woodlands at high risk

Residents in Woodhall Spa claim this shows clearance work has started on the conservation area site, including the felling of a 120-year-old oak tree.

Residents in Woodhall Spa claim this shows clearance work has started on the conservation area site, including the felling of a 120-year-old oak tree.

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A detailed report on the current state of West Sussex’s woodland has indicated that many of the district’s ancient woods are at high risk.

The Woodland Trust gathered the eye-opening statistics to support The Independent Panel on Forestry’s report that covers a wide range of woodland issues for the government to address.

It shockingly reveals that West Sussex has suffered the highest number of threats and losses to ancient woodland in the country.

Billingshurst’s Rosier Wood was threatened by a housing development earlier this year but was successfully appealed by The Woodland Trust.

The applicant did not counter appeal within the six month time frame and has been refused to build, but not all ancient woodlands can be saved.

The report also highlights that Slaugham’s West Park and East Park Woods suffered great loss due to roadworks and part of Henfield’s Horton Wood was cleared to make room for a waste disposal sight.

Overall, a staggering 38 ancient woods have been threatened, resulting in nine lost or damaged and eight remain under threat mainly due to roads and housing.

West Sussex also ranks below average for pedestrian access to woodland with just 14.5 per cent of people living near to a wood they can visit.

Just 2.7 per cent of ancient woodland survives in England today and is home to more species of conservation than any other land habitat.

Woodland Trust Head of Campaigning, Nikki Williams said: “We are asking people in West Sussex to tell Owen Paterson, new Secretary of State, for the Environment to just say ‘yes’ so the woodland they have will be protected and expanded.”

The Independent Panel on Forestry’s report asks the government for the management of ancient woodland and the creation of new trees.