Westhay, the southern part of Fineshade Wood is privately owned but managed by the Forestry Commission. In 2013 one of the rides was widened and in June last year I wrote a blog, “Three cheers for the Commission”, praising the way it had been done and saying how good that ride was looking.
We thought at that time that the plan was to widen the rest of the rides in Westhay in the same way over a five year period. “What would the dormice do if all the hazel were coppiced at the same time?” I asked.
During golden October Westhay looked absolutely wonderful but then the ride widening began again … and went on, and on and on. All the rides were done at the same time, removing in a single winter all the hedgerow growth and scrubby young trees. The principle of widening the rides was a very good one and will, no doubt, be to the long-term benefit of Fineshade’s wildlife. But doing it all at once, no doubt because of commercial constraints, will have a very adverse effect in the short term on some of the habitat specific wildlife such as butterflies, breeding warblers and dormice
All we can do is wait and see. Nature is very resilient but it does seem a great shame that one of the Forestry Commission's excellent plans for the southern part of Fineshade was marred by doing too much, too fast.