UK National Parks Volunteer Project of the Year 2016
CPRE Hampshire Countryside (Community & Voluntary) Award 2015
New Forest Sustainability Champion 2015 (Dave Dibden)
If you enjoy the New Forest why not become part of a winning conservation team and volunteer with Pondhead Conservation Trust (PCT). Our conservation volunteers enjoy fresh air, plenty of exercise and good company. By working in one unique New Forest location volunteers also get a sense of ownership in the project and can see the difference they are making year on year.
We are a small, multi award winning community woodland project (registered charity) working in partnership with the Forestry Commission. We are run entirely by volunteers with the aim of restoring the hazel coppice, woodland understorey and ride (track) network of Pondhead Inclosure, near Lyndhurst, in order to improve its biodiversity and enhance public enjoyment of this unique area of New Forest woodland.
Pondhead Inclosure is situated close to the village of Lyndhurst (see map) in the heart of the New Forest. It is like no other area of woodland in the New Forest, as it has not been grazed by ponies and cattle for several centuries resulting in a rich variety of flora, butterflies and birds found in few other places locally. It also contains the largest are of hazel coppice remaining on the Crown land of the New Forest.
The inclosure comprises 76 hectares (190 acres) of woodland, part of which was originally planted in 1810 with the remainder ancient woodland. It currently hosts large areas of bluebells, wood anemone, wood sorrel, wood spurge and wild garlic (ramsons) all of which are recognised as being indicators of ancient woodland. In many ways the inclosure is reminiscent of a typical medieval wood with its oak standards and understorey of hazel. It is one of the premier bluebell woods in the south of England.
In 2004 the Forestry Commission granted permission to Dave Dibden, our resident coppicer, to re-commence coppicing the hazel in the inclosure. Dave has a passion for Pondhead and its restoration and this passion was acknowledged when he was presented with the New Forest Sustainability Champion 2015 award at the New Forest Show. With the previous help of Forestry Commission sponsored volunteers a significant amount of conservation work had been undertaken but much still remained to be done. It is for this reason that Pondhead Conservation Trust was formed in 2014 to put a sustainable structure in place and ensure that the restoration work started by Dave may be continued and enhanced in perpetuity by future generations.
Coppicing involves cutting the hazel back to ground level on a regular rotation (usually 10 years) which causes a number of new shoots to emerge from the base (stool). In this way increasing numbers of shoots are sent up each time the area of hazel (coupe) is coppiced. Without active coppice management it is likely that this last stronghold of hazel on New Forest Crown land will disappear within a generation. However if it is coppiced in rotation it is capable of surviving for centuries. Coppicing is very environmentally friendly and good for the biodiversity of an area. All wood that we cut is used to produce high quality charcoal and in this way we can generate sufficient income to cover our expenses in a self sustainable way.
In addition to our coppice restoration work, many of the old rides (tracks) in Pondhead have become overgrown through lack of active management and by opening these up again it encourages regeneration of the dormant seed bank of flora and provides corridors for butterflies and other species to recolonise. In turn the presence of an increased supply of caterpillars attracts an increase in the resident bird population. Some of the rides form part of the official circular village walk of Lyndhurst.
This is a long term project whereby we aim to restore the woodland to its former glory and improve its biodiversity by working closely with local wildlife organisations. Pondhead Conservation Trust has been set up as a vehicle by which future generations will be able to continue this important conservation work. This work is heavily reliant on a large volunteer force – if you would like to help us with our project, it’s easy to sign up online via our “Join us” page. For all other enquiries please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07887811712
A copy of our Annual Report & Financial Accounts can be obtained by clicking here.