biodiversity

forestry & education

Situated in South Downs National Park, on the side of Butser Hill, the woodland is a designated SSSI and PAWS site. We work alongside educational and conservation organizations to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship for people and wildlife. From nearby primary schools to universities, inspired members of the public to local councils, Natural England, Forestry Commission and Butterfly Conservation, we value our wide network of interested people all working for conservation.

Naturally beech and yew broadleaf woodland, the site was planted with western red cedar in 1957 (the same year as our principal, Jonathan West, was born!). The cedar plantation was left unmanaged for many years, turning into a thick, dense monoculture with no space for anything else. Conifer plantations provide very little for wildlife, especially when all the trees are the same age. They’re also more vulnerable to diseases and severe weather, so we have been felling and extracting cedar since 2002. Opening up the woodland and encouraging natural regeneration of broadleaf species increases biodiversity, which makes the woodland more resilient and much nicer to look at! Thinning is an essential part of woodland management, letting in light to the complex understory of bramble, bluebell, primrose, elder, and many more. It also produces materials for people to use – check out the Whitelands video to see this sunlight capturing factory in action.

The original 30 acres of Whitelands Wood has been expanded into the 10 acre field below. Once a section of arable desert, the field is now a mixed species forestry plantation. Our method combines traditional forestry practice that seeks to produce a strong timber crop, with a wildlife friendly, minimum intervention approach. It might look messy to you, but its home to hundreds of species, including flycatchers, common lizards, adders and polecats. We believe people have a place in nature. Whether that’s through felling and planting trees, grazing animals on chalk downland, or monitoring and protecting wildlife – we all play a part.

If you want to hear more about our journey creating a space for nature and people, take a look at our blog!