The Weald, and Brightling in particular, is rich in ancient woodland. But it’s difficult to ‘read’ a wood — its history, resources and challenges — without the help of an expert. That help was provided by the tree warden for Dallington, Doug Edworthy, during a walk in Dallington Forest, on Saturday 7th July.
Forge Wood in Dallington Forest straddles Brightling and Dallington parishes, and – it turns out – is of national importance. A long history of heavy use, especially for the iron industry and commercial timber, have left their mark, including graffiti from a German prisoner of war!
Doug showed us ancient yew and beech trees threatened by competitive growth, such as from Western Hemlock, planted in Victorian times and now regenerating freely. He also described how removing fallen branches of veteran trees can rob the woods of important habitat for a whole range of fauna and flora.
How these woods are managed now can make a huge difference to their future health. The walk ended with an inspiring example of how that management might be done, through selective clearing of trees, opening up of avenues, and preservation of fallen and standing deadwood.
Brightling currently doesn’t have a tree warden. There’s an opportunity for Doug to fill that role, to provide the kind of joined-up approach that our woodlands need, and to involve parishioners along the way.
Many thanks to Doug, and to Jane and Geoffrey Beard for organising the walk.
Much more detail is to be found in this report: Dallington Forest Ancient and Veteran Tree Survey 2017