Three Hagges Jubilee Wood - North Yorkshire’s newest community wood

PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 March 2014

Freya Hawthorne heels in a sapling at Three Hagges Wood

Freya Hawthorne heels in a sapling at Three Hagges Wood

©mike cowling

Volunteers from across the county have voted with their spades in favour of a new community wood in Escrick, near York.

Rosalind Forbes Adam with a variety of saplings ready for plantingRosalind Forbes Adam with a variety of saplings ready for planting

Green-fingered families turned up in their droves to plant 1,000 trees at Three Hagges Jubilee Wood, a 22-acre section of Escrick Park Estate that’s being transformed from arable land into the region’s largest new public woodland.

Bordering the A19 between Riccall and Escrick, the wood has enormous potential for education and community events, which could go some way to explaining why people are giving it their wholehearted backing.

Chair of Hagge Woods Trust Rosalind Forbes Adam, who has designed and masterminded the unique wood with her son Beilby, said: ‘We were absolutely delighted with the turnout from volunteers for our wood with a difference.

‘We were blessed with good weather and there was a great community spirit as we planted oak, hazel, lime and other fruiting and flowering trees including blackthorn, hawthorn and rowan.

‘Ultimately 9,000 new trees will be planted at Three Hagges Jubilee Wood and we are well on way to reaching that target, thanks to the valiant efforts of our volunteers.’

Deer and rabbit fencing has been erected around the wood to protect it from fallow and roe deer who roam the surrounding area and the many rabbits who hop unabated in the ancient semi-natural woodland nearby. Once the trees have grown above browse height – around seven years – the fencing will be taken down and the woodland left open.

‘The wood will include a variety of shrubs like spindle, dogwood and purging buckthorn as well as some native evergreen holly and yew,’ said Rosalind. ‘In all, 22 native species of tree and shrub are being included in the woodland, designed by biologist and ecologist Lin Hawthorne.’

The key difference between this and other woods, apart from the detailed planning that has gone into it, is that all the trees are being planted in an established sward of fine grasses and wildflowers.

‘In effect, a wood meadow is being created, which will look absolutely beautiful as the seasons change and the trees grow, making a habitat that attracts a huge diversity of wildlife,’ Rosalind continued.

‘Our ultimate goal is to create a beautiful woodland for the community to enjoy featuring wildflowers, fine grasses and meandering pathways. This planting was an important step towards achieving our dream.’

The planting day was filmed by Scarborough-based Claudia Nye, who has been commissioned by Woodlands TV to make a film about the wood, created in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The community woodland has been set up as a not-for-profit enterprise, with assistance from the Forestry Commission and the Woodland Trust, and Hagge Woods Trust is now a registered charity.

‘This is a wood with a difference,’ said Rosalind. ‘The problem with most new woodlands is that the focus is very much on the tree planting and little thought goes into managing the diversity of plant life on the ground.

‘I want to make sure that Three Hagges Wood is not only a beautiful place for people to visit but also supports a diverse range of wildlife, which is why every species of plant has been selected for its value to birds, small mammals, bees, butterflies and other wildlife.’

You can follow progress at the new woodland by visiting threehaggesjubileewood.org.uk.

Trees a jolly good fellow

The Jubilee Wood Project was originally the brainchild of Beilby Forbes Adam, whose family has run Escrick Park Estate for nearly 350 years.

He launched the project after achieving an MA in landscape architecture at Sheffield University, starting with essential site surveys before engaging the help of the Woodland Trust and seeking grant aid from the Forestry Commission.

Beilby’s project has now been taken up by his mother Rosalind Forbes Adam together with conservation consultant Tango Fawcett and horticulturalist Lin Hawthorne. They have a long lease on the land at a peppercorn rent, allowing them to provide an enviable degree of continuity to add to their collective knowledge in managing and nurturing a new woodland.

Their aim is to replicate a natural native woodland comprising a canopy of oak, lime and beech, an edge mix of cherry, crab apples, thorns, rowan and hazel, and a shrub layer of flowering and fruiting natives.

The long-term control of pernicious weeds will help to create conditions for the introduction of a herb layer – wood anemones, wild daffodils, bluebells, moschatel, primroses, violets – to further enhance biodiversity.

What the heck is a hagge?

It has several meanings. In Old Norse, it means a portion of a wood marked off for cutting, and a hag wood is one prepared for regular tree-cutting, which fits neatly with Hagge Woods Trust’s intention to manage its hazels by coppicing.

Hag or hagi also means a pasture or enclosure and, in Swedish, is the name for blackthorn – a species included in the tree mix at Three Hagges Wood.

And if you peruse old maps of Escrick Park Estate, some dating back to 1600, you’ll find a number of plots bearing variations on the word hag, including Rickall Hagge, Child Haggs and Helm Hag.

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