Volunteer learning how to lay a hedge
View of All Saints Church from Lord's Hill in Heath & Reach.
Sketch from Stockgrove Historic Landscape Study 2009.
 
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Landscape Restoration on Lordís Hill
in Rushmere Country Park,
Heath & Reach

Tree felling will start on Lord's Hill (eastern side of Rushmere Country Park adjacent to Heath & Reach) in January 2013. The removal of the pine plantation is part of the landscape restoration project in Rushmere Country Park.

Background
Historically, the landscape surrounding Heath and Reach was open heathland, with views across to All Saintís Church in Leighton Buzzard, dominated by plants like heather and wavy hair grass that thrive on poor-quality, sandy soils, alongside scattered mature trees. For hundreds of years birch, gorse, broom and heather would have been gathered for use as bedding, thatching and fuel, and villagersí cattle and sheep grazed on the heath.

Historical planting of commercial forestry
In the 1960s and 70s, the area around Lordís Hill was planted with conifers for commercial forestry, which over time have crowded the existing mature trees and shaded out the traditional heathland plants, reducing the number of species found in the area.

What we are going to do
The planned forestry work will remove the dense plantation, opening out the area around existing mature conifer and broadleaved trees to create a woody heath, whilst retaining woodland around the edge of the site.

By allowing more light through to the ground, heathland plants such as heather, dwarf gorse, bilberry and spring vetch will start to regrow. Over the next few years the heathland plants on Lordís Hill will become home for a range of insects, like green tiger beetles, solitary bees and a variety of butterflies. The insect life in turn provides food for common lizards and adders, and for heathland birds like the woodlark, nightjar and tree pipit, rarely seen in this corner of Bedfordshire.

During this time there will be no public access to the works areas so please be aware of signs on site for your safety.

This work is supported by the Forestry Commission and Natural England, and funded under Natural Englandís Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.

Please click here to see a plan of the restoration area.

Heathland under threat
Lowland heath is in decline across England, threatened by housing developments, forestry plantation and agriculture, and areas are becoming more and more fragmented. The Greendsand Ridge in Bedfordshire is one of the few areas in eastern England where heathland, and associated acid grasslands, are found. Together with the adjacent Shire Oak Heath Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the new woody heath at Lordís Hill will form a refuge for unique wildlife and plants.

Working in partnership
The heathland restoration at Rushmere is part of a much larger project to protect and regenerate this rare and special habitat across Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and the Greensand Trust is working alongside organisations including the RSPB and the Wildlife Trust protect heathlands and wildlife for future generations.

For further information please contact the ranger team on 01525 237760