A tree-mendous opportunity for Balls Wood
PUBLISHED: 17:23 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:21 20 February 2013
AT 55 hectares, Balls Wood, near Hertford is the Trust's largest woodland nature reserve. This oak/hornbeam wood is rich in wildlife and supports a number of key UK Priority species including great crested newt and bats. It is for its butterflies ...
AT 55 hectares, Balls Wood, near Hertford is the Trust's largest woodland nature reserve. This oak/hornbeam wood is rich in wildlife and supports a number of key UK Priority species including great crested newt and bats. It is for its butterflies however, that Balls Wood is probably best known.
Historically, it was a very rich butterfly site but like many woodlands in Hertfordshire which were once managed for timber, the southern section of Balls Wood in particular suffered through lack of management for wood or conservation.
The Trust has been managing the northern section of the nature reserve on behalf of its owners, the Forestry Commission, for more than 30 years. During this time our conservation work on that section of the site has encouraged a number of scarce butterfly species including the white admiral, purple emperor and silver-washed fritillary. The southern section however has not been managed by the Trust and currently its value for wildlife is very low due to too much tree growth - which inhibits the growth of woodland ground flora.
Sadly though, there is currently no agreement with the Forestry Commission for us to manage the wood beyond the end of 2008, and its future is therefore uncertain. The good news is that we now have the opportunity to purchase both Balls Wood and adjacent Hobby Horse Wood. Not only would this secure the long term future of this site but it would more than double the amount of land currently managed as a nature reserve. By owning the whole of the wood we can start to restore this part of the nature reserve and increase the diversity of habitats and species within it.
This is a very exciting prospect but the amount we will need to raise far exceeds anything this wildlife trust has ever had to raise before. Although we have started to pursue assistance from local and national grant-making bodies, we need to match this funding by raising 150,000.
If you or anyone you know can help us save this wonderful wood from an uncertain future, please contact us on 01727 858901 or visit our website www.wildlifetrust.org.uk/herts to find out more.