Woodland closures

Flooded Waresley& Gransden; Brampton ride by Matt Hamilton

Exceptionally prolonged wet conditions from autumn through to early spring meant that the Trust took difficult decisions to keep various Cambridgeshire woodlands closed to help preserve the longevity of all woodland wildlife and for the safety of the public. With a focus on Brampton Wood, here's why . . .

Due to an exceptionally wet autumn, winter and early spring, many of the Trust's ancient Cambridgeshire woods became dangerously and impassably saturated. At Brampton Wood the heavy clay soils have been compacted and churned up into a muddy mess for months on end. 

All heavy machinery work at Brampton during autumn was halted (with some timber left in situ until dry conditions hopefully return by summer) due to the detrimental impact becoming clear - and with the aim of preventing further damage. However, continued heavy and sustained rainfall meant that even the usual use by visitors was having an adverse effect on the paths - and worryingly on the wildflower rich ride grasslands. 

As seen in previous years at Brampton Wood and across the county in other woods, wildflower rich grasslands are easily impacted and heavily degraded by footfall in wet weather, as well as becoming hazardously slippery for visitors, and therefore it was obvious to the Trust’s highly experienced reserves team that closure was the only option to protect all wildlife. 

As winter and early spring progressed rainfall continued at record levels leaving woodland paths and rides flooded which will take months to drain away – inevitably this has meant that the length of the closure was extended in the hope that ground conditions would improve: continued adverse weather has so far prevented this.  

What has it achieved?

The closure of Brampton Wood has meant that the paths, although flooded are not in a poor state through trampling, and that flowers such as primroses, pignut, violets and common spotted orchids are growing where they otherwise would inevitably have been destroyed. The top photograph illustrates stark differences: Waresley & Gransden remained open until Feburary, when conditions forced closure, on the right Brampton now has preserved wildflower rich rides - vital for insects. Trust staff monitor wildlife across the wood and manage it for the long term. The full benefit of necessary closure will be evident in summer when plants and animals are active once again and can be enjoyed for all to see. 

 

Woods currently closed:

Brampton Wood
Gamlingay Wood
Hardwick Wood
Hayley Wood
Waresley & Gransden Wood

Other beautiful woods and nature reserves in the county remain open - do check our reserves page 

 

Saturated Brampton Wood ride by Matt Hamilton

Saturated Brampton Wood ride by Matt Hamilton 

Why have staff and volunteers still been accessing Brampton Wood?

Staff and volunteers have been completing a minimal amount of essential winter management work in the wood limited to certain areas, minimising ground impact wherever possible. This has been small scale works to restore ponds, clear fallen trees after storms and keeping ride edges open.  Only low ground pressure vehicles (quad bike) have been used to prevent any rutting to the rides and use kept strictly to a minimum.     

Will it happen again?  

As a landowner and charity whose core aim is to protect wildlife we always seek to balance potential damage through human activity against the desire to provide people with access to natural spaces. If we are in another position in the future where significant impacts to wildlife are anticipated which can be avoided or ameliorated through site temporary closures we will make those decisions on the best evidence available.   

Should you have any questions about Brampton Wood please contact us via our website www.wildlifebcn.org/contact-us or on  cambridgeshire@wildlifebcn.org