Park Wood information page

Closes 31 Mar 2022

Opened 29 Mar 2021

Overview

Welcome to Park Wood information page.

We have created this page to provide easy access to information on the project. We will be updating this site as the project progresses, so please keep checking for what's new.

Latest Update - December 2021

As part of the ongoing work to improve Park Wood, the Environment Agency will be installing new way markers on the footpaths within the wood.

The Environment Agency would like your views on whether our proposed paths are suitable for you as regular users of the woodland. The consultation can be viewed here. Closing date for responses is 27 January 2022.

 

Introduction

The Environment Agency has an ambition to be a leader in our response to the climate emergency. We want to remain resilient, whilst optimising our use of resources, benefiting people and communities and delivering environmental net gain. Park Wood provides an opportunity for us to create a better place.

Park Wood is one of the largest areas of unfragmented woodland in the Hailsham area.

The entire woodland is designated ancient, semi-natural woodland and it has a long history of coppice management back to mediaeval times when iron smelting was an important local industry.  It is designated as a Local Wildlife Site, important for its species richness including a number of bat species, hazel dormouse, amphibians, reptiles, birds and bryophytes (plants). The woodland is highly valued by the local community both as wildlife habitat and as a place for a wide range of quiet informal recreation activities.  Park Wood is designated as an Asset of Community Value and is designated as open-access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

Location map of Park Wood

(Image above) Park Wood location map

More Information

Government guidance directs the public sector to only hold land necessary for its requirements. We have previously proposed selling Park Wood as it was originally considered surplus to our operational need. The woodland is not for sale as we have recognised the potential for its operational use of sustainable woodland produce in Natural Flood Management and fencing etc. The woodland is also helping us to meet our ambitious goal to reach Carbon Net Zero by 2030.
In recent years, Park Wood has been under-managed.  Much of the coppice has been growing unmanaged and a significant proportion is diseased.  The woodland canopy has closed over leading to a decline in the quality and extent of wildlife habitat.
Community groups have been raising awareness, undertaken survey work and commissioned an ancient woodland restoration plan. Building on this useful work we need to develop detailed information to allow us to justify and plan for our long term retention and sustainable management of the woodland.

More Information

We have recently commissioned a new management plan for Park Wood, which has been approved by the Forestry Commission. The management plan encompasses our aspirations for the woodland, you can read a copy here [PDF 3MB]..

The Environment Agency’s vision is to restore the woodland and to conserve and enhance its biodiversity through a sustainable woodland management approach that works with natural processes.  We will be guided by the Government’s 25 year environment plan; this is driven by the need to leave the natural environment in a better state than we inherited it.

At the same time, community access will be improved and maintained with the aim of enhancing recreational opportunities for local people and providing training and educational opportunities both for the local community and Environment Agency staff. Some areas will be left undisturbed with minimal intervention in order to benefit those species that depend on old growth woodland.

Some more detailed elements of our plans for financial year 2021/22 include:

  • Way Markers: To be installed once we have a decided the exact routes – these are likely to be the existing routes but we will look at any small detours where future maintenance might be an issue. Only way-marked paths will be given a Public Safety Risk Assessment and appropriate actions taken when needed – removing dangerous branches/brush etc.
  • Notice Boards: Information boards to be put in the woods where we will put up-to-date information explaining our maintenance works.
  • Interpretation Boards: We are looking of updating the Park Wood interpretation board with a new one including a new map with the new walking routes and ecological information of species within the woods
  • Flooding on NHS Trust’s Land: We are continuing to investigate the cause of the blockage. We are working closely with the Bunny Run and local authorities to understand where the blockage is and how this could be freed up to allow drainage
  • Horse Rider Access: We have met and walked the woods with a local rider and a representative from the BHS (British Horse Society). As part of this we are hoping to make the permissible path for equestrian use more accessible for all riders and we are more confident that this access will be improved by next spring.
  • Tree Works: 1) We will be carrying tree works in late summer/early autumn on trees that have been identified as a potential safety risk.  2) Between September and March, we will be starting to implement some of the new management plan through the activities of our field teams as they undertake their essential chainsaw training courses. Both of these pieces of work may involve temporarily closing footpaths while the works are carried out.  We will put a notice up in advance of the works and signage to indicate which paths aren’t accessible.
  • Car Park: We are not currently funded for significant repairs to the car park. We will however continue to keep it as safe as possible when we feel there is a need. We will continue to explore additional funding routes for improvements to the wood, one of which would be to repair and resurface the car park.
  • Ecological Surveys: Dormouse nest box checks are being undertaken by a suitably licenced person and we are continuing to work with Sussex Bat Group and Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group to work up a program of surveys which the local community can also get involved with.

Where to find out more information

Please check this page for project updates. You can also email us.

We are exploring opportunities for volunteers to get involved with ecological surveys heritage and archaeology work.

Thank you for visiting our information page.

 Please contact:

park.wood@environment-agency.gov.uk

if:

  • you are not able to access any of the info on this page.
  • you have any comments or feedback on our information page.
  • you have any questions or concerns about the project.

For more information on how we will use and share your data, please see our Privacy Notice below and our Personal Information Charter

Audiences

  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • All water abstractors
  • Environment Agency customers
  • Environment Agency colleagues
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities
  • Local Risk Management Authorities
  • Flood Resilience Forums
  • Engagement specialists/operational staff in Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and other risk management authorities

Interests

  • Flood management
  • Habitats and wildlife