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Home Breaking Acorns from Ancient Oak Trees Used to Expand National Nature Reserve

Acorns from Ancient Oak Trees Used to Expand National Nature Reserve

In a remarkable conservation effort, acorns harvested from some of the country’s oldest oak trees are being used to cultivate seedlings for a newly expanded National Nature Reserve (NNR) in Herefordshire. The project aims to safeguard the lineage of these ancient trees for future generations.

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

Moccas Park and Gillian’s Wood NNR

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

The recently extended Moccas Park and Gillian’s Wood National Nature Reserve builds upon the original Moccas Park NNR. The reserve’s size has increased from 139 to 239 hectares, encompassing both woodland and grassland areas with scattered trees (wood pasture). Notably, the Woodbury Hill Wood is now part of the reserve, thanks to the support of a Herefordshire family and the Woodland Trust.

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

Restoration Efforts

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

Ancient Trees and Wildlife

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

Within the reserve, ancient trees abound, including the venerable “Old Man of Moccas,” an oak believed to be over 850 years old. By restoring wood pasture and ancient woodland, the reserve benefits wildlife such as bats, beetles, and dormice.

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

The King’s Series of National Nature Reserves

Acorns From Ancient Oak Trees Used To Expand National Nature Reserve

The Moccas Park and Gillian’s Wood NNR is part of the King’s Series of National Nature Reserves. This initiative, announced last year, aims to create a lasting public legacy by establishing a series of reserves in honour of the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III. Over the next five years (from 2023 to 2027), five new National Nature Reserves will be announced annually.

National Nature Reserves Week

As part of National Nature Reserves Week, the Moccas Park and Gillian’s Wood NNR joins two other reserves in celebrating England’s most vital natural places. Events are taking place across the country until May 31. Natural England approved the reserve’s extension in April.

A Bright Future for Ancient Trees

Emma Johnson, West Midlands Deputy Director for Natural England, expressed optimism about the reserve’s impact: “The extension of the Moccas Park and Gillian’s Wood National Nature Reserve is going to make a real difference to the future of these ancient trees, ensuring the next generation thrives well into the 2500s!”

Restoring the Woodland

In the newly acquired woodland, ancient and veteran trees have been overshadowed by conifers planted in the 1950s. Restoration efforts involve gradually removing these conifers to create space for native woodland species. Large-leaved lime, wych elm, ash, and oak will thrive, providing essential deadwood habitat for invertebrates, including rare deadwood beetles, lichen, and fungi.

A Living History

Richard Brown, Site Manager of the Woodland Trust, emphasised the importance of ancient trees: “These trees are an essential part of our history. Surveying and tagging surviving ancient trees will help ensure their continued survival.”

Gillian’s Wood

The name “Gillian’s Wood” pays tribute to John Bulmer’s sister, from the Herefordshire family that owned Bulmers cider. With their support, the Woodland Trust now owns and manages Woodbury Hill.

As we look ahead, this ambitious conservation effort promises a brighter future for ancient trees and the diverse ecosystems they support.

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