Since the beginning of the year the Countryside Team has been working on the mammoth task of planting 2200 across our land at Chute farm, which sits atop Whipsnade and Dunstable Downs. So if you have been walking across the top of the Downs and wondering what the thousands of green tubes are which have suddenly appeared in the adjacent fields are. You can rest easy knowing it is not some alien invasion of the tube people.
The planting plan was designed to join up existing patches of woodland which contain plats such as Bluebells, Yellow Archangel and Wood Anemone which are indicators and ancient woodland. And small patches of woodland like these are extremely vulnerable destructive events such as fire or disease. By creating corridors between these patches, allowing these species to move and spread between the patches, we hope to ensure the long term survival of these species.
The species we planted were in two mixes. Central to the plantings we planted a mix of Oak, Beech and Field Maple, which when they grow will produce a good mature woodland of native English species. On the edge of the plantings we planted a mix of smaller shrubbier trees to border the larger trees and produce health woodland margins. This mix of trees was; Crab Apple, Wayfairing Tree, Spindle Tree, Guelder Rose, Dogwood and Hazel.
The trees were planted in two ways; strips between 10 and 20 meters wide and a block of 1.7 acres. The 1.7 acres was to create an entirely new area of woodland where there has been none before on top of Bison Hill. And the Strip planting, as well as helping connect up existing woodland, has allowed us to split up several of our fields at chute farm. Splitting up these fields and providing a wind barrier of trees means that they will be less windblown and warmer than they were when they were larger. This is good news if you are an invertebrate or a ground nesting bird. Couple this with our project to return many of the fields at Chute Farm to chalk grassland, a project you will hear more about in blogs to come, and there is a very bright future for the wildlife at Chute Farm.
The Countryside Team would like to thank all the staff, volunteers and visitors who have helped us achieve this amazing task.