A council has revealed its long-term plan to restore an ancient woodland back to its natural historic state.

Watford Borough Council looks after Whippendell Woods and says it has suffered from the growth of invasive, non-native trees over the past few years.

With the soils and ecosystems found in these types of sites forming the UK’s richest land habitat, the council says non-native trees adds “little benefit to the plants and wildlife in the local area”.

But the council will be working alongside Natural England, Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust to gradually remove invasive non-native trees over the next five years.

Native trees will be planted or allowed to grow back naturally over that time, which the council says will allow the ancient woods to return to its natural state and benefit the local area.

Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “Whippendell Woods is a real gem which is enjoyed by thousands of people each year.

“However, there is work to be done to make it a healthy woodland. Looking after our environment and making Watford a greener town is so important so I’m really pleased we are starting these works.

“Woodlands need to be managed to ensure they can be enjoyed by future generations. The scheme will help us to keep the woods healthy for many more years.”

The aim is to improve the structural and species diversity of the woodland to support more wildlife, improve access, create better links with the park and wider landscape, and to protect the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Whippendell Wood is designated a SSSI by Natural England, which means it is protected by law to conserve its wildlife and geology.

The woodland was surveyed in 2018 by the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Woodland Restoration Project and provided information which the council says complements its existing management plan on how best to restore the ancient woodland.

It is home to a host of rare, protected and threatened wildlife - 256 species of conservation concern are associated with ancient woodland across the country.

This includes species that are slow to react to change, find it difficult to adapt, and are not mobile enough to move to other locations to survive

And the council warned that once ancient woodland is destroyed, it can never be replaced.

For more information and the latest updates about the project, visit www.watford.gov.uk/cassioburyprojects