BBC Breathing Places and the Big Lottery Fund awarded £6,590 to the Friends of Cherry Tree Wood in 2008 to enable steps to be taken to prevent further deterioration of the woodland area and to preserve, and encourage regeneration of, native species of flora which will, in turn, benefit indigenous wildlife.
Some coppicing of hazel was carried out in the upper part of the wood to provide different levels of woodland growth and a better habitat for birds and other wildlife. Also in the Southern part of the wood, we extended and re-fenced the existing coppiced area, removed most of the bramble, planted a few different species of woodland trees and transplanted some of the ground flora from other parts of the woodland into the fenced area. We also thinned the birch and hornbeam saplings along the South Western edge of the wood; the felled saplings and wood from the coppiced hazel being used elsewhere in the wood for dead- hedging.
After clearance of much of the native flora along the embankment side of the wood several years ago, saplings of ash and sycamore proliferated in the area along with bramble. Many of the saplings and bramble were removed to enable less invasive species of native trees to regenerate. The area was then dead-hedged for protection. The bramble which remains, and the ivy along the perimeter fence, provide a refuge and nesting site for many different types of bird.
We attempted to protect by low dead-hedging the increasingly rare wood anemones, sited near the Station entrance, and the bluebell patch to the East of the Summerlee Road gate. This effort met with mixed success due to vandalism and many of the small signs erected around the wood, advising of the actions taken under the grant, were also vandalised or removed.
The bird-box making days were a great success with local children and some of the wooden boxes which were made have been erected in the wood along with others of a more substantial variety. Since both native and migrant birds compete for the now fewer suitable nesting sites in the wood, we shall be erecting more boxes in the next year or two along with bat boxes.
Much of the small balsam , which inhibits the growth of native ground flora, was removed, principally from around the Summerlee Road entrance to the wood but on-going efforts will be needed to eradicate it from the wood.
In the fenced area near the playground we removed most of the bramble to enable an understorey of trees and shrubs, as well as ground flora, to regenerate. The old fencing around the area has now been removed and a protective natural barrier erected in its place.
Ideally, trees and other flora should be permitted to regenerate naturally in the woodland but, due to increased footfall, that is not feasible in all areas and some replanting of native shrubs and trees, such as hazel, hawthorn, viburnum and dog rose has taken place in the denuded area near the Summerlee Gate and along the embankment side towards the Station entrance where there has been some vandalism.
The Breathing Places grant enabled us to make a start with conservation activities in the wood and we plan to build upon that base in the coming years as well as to initiate new projects to preserve, so far as possible, our fragment of ancient woodland for the benefit of future generations.