Planned works in woods scheduled to take place this autumn being vaunted as a ‘Whippendell Woods - ancient woodland restoration project’ are a cause for concern.

The project is to “aim 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”(‘diversity’ - the usual choice of seemingly unequivocal buzzword).

But isn’t there a converse argument for uniformity and woodland related to the area it is in both in time and place?

On the Watford Borough Council website it goes on to say it will achieve this by: “Removing invasive non-native species such as cherry laurel, snowberry and rhododendron which spread and outcompete our native plant species and reduce the diversity of ground flora. Creating a more diverse mosaic of tree/shrub species, age and structure through sensitive thinning of densely shaded woodland areas. Increase open spaces by opening up rides and glades, and creating links between the bigger open spaces (strawberry fields) for ecological connectivity. Reducing the amount of non-native conifers that were planted as plantations to favour a natural broadleaf mix of trees and shrubs Identifying and mapping veteran and biologically significant trees and removing the competition that threatens their survival and health. Reintroducing traditional management of coppicing to provide link with historic management Retaining dead and decaying wood such as fallen los or snags to support habitats for fungi and invertebrates.”

The bottom line is the project involves felling quite a number of trees to thin woodland; create open spaces and glades; removing trees that it deems to be not in keeping with the woods.

When Watford has lost so many trees to development, storm damage and disease, to be cutting down even more on the basis of selective and specious arguments just seems deplorable.

With Watford’s poor air quality, there is an over-arching need to retain all trees at this current time as they all play a crucial role in filtering pollution.

The money should be targeted at replanting the many street trees lost in recent years, not tinkering with ancient woodland that has been untouched for centuries.

Dave Degen

Whippendell Road, Watford