Woodland walk helps Dandara showcase plans to protect and enhance ancient woodland at Knights Wood

Woodland walk helps Dandara showcase plans to protect and enhance ancient woodland at Knights Wood
25 MAY 2017

On Saturday 6 May, residents of Knights Wood enjoyed the opportunity to join an organised walk around the beautiful woodland that surrounds Dandara’s stylish development and learn more about future plans to enhance the area.

On a dry but overcast morning, over 50 residents and Dandara staff – plus a good number of dogs – assembled for the event. Led by Nick Robinson of Kent High Weald Partnership and Rick Vallis of Silva Woodland Management, the walk was intended to introduce new residents to the woodland and wider path network that connects Knights Wood to the neighbouring countryside and into Tunbridge Wells.

Knights Wood covers an area of 197 acres, of which approximately 75% is woodland and the remainder a central meadow where new homes are being built. With Robinsgate Wood to the east and Greggs Wood to the west, these woodlands are designated as being ancient and semi-natural in character, meaning they have been recorded as woodland since the earliest maps of Great Britain were produced in the early 1600s.

In the summer of 2014, Dandara engaged Tonbridge-based Silva Woodland Management to draft a ten-year plan for the woodlands at Knights Wood. Prior to this, little or no management work had taken place in recent times, with some windblown timber still present following the great storm of 1987.

Following approval of the plan, work began in earnest in January 2016, with initial activities including improving access to the woods for public recreation and removing invasive species such as Rhododendron and Gaultheria.

Significant progress has been made already, as residents could clearly see as the walk passed through beautiful bluebells and a chestnut coppice in Greggs Wood, before crossing into Sherwood Park, which is managed by the Kent High Weald Partnership. The walk touched on the Victorian heritage of William Siemens’ family estate at Calverley Manor and then returned via Robinsgate Wood, which offers a superb view of the Knights Wood.

Looking forward, further planned works include the following:

Coppicing over-mature sweet chestnut trees within Greggs Wood to create an uneven aged habitat
Replanting native broadleaf species within areas of open ground, following the clearance of invasive species such as Rhododendron
Installing interpretation boards and informal seating
Re-erection of dormouse nest boxes

Future works:
Construction of a new cycle trail linking Knights Wood with both Robinsgate Wood and Greggs Wood and providing access to Blackhurst Lane
Erecting boundary fencing within Robinsgate Wood
On-going maintenance within the woodlands and to newly planted trees

Speaking of the success of the walk, Ben Thwaites, Dandara’s Sales Manager for Knights Wood, said:

We are delighted that residents enjoyed the chance to learn more about the stunning countryside on their doorstep. Knights Wood’s tranquil setting is a major selling point and we are delighted to be working with Silva Woodland Management and Kent High Weald Partnership to enhance and safeguard this area for future generations.

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