Farming in Protected Landscapes Case Study:

Ancient woodland restoration project

For Years 2 and 3 of the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, £22,636 has been awarded to Rivers Hall Farm Estate for ancient woodland restoration.

Rivers Hall is a set within a diverse undulating landscape with numerous small steep sided valleys running from the main Stour River valley. There are several ancient woodlands scattered through the estate the most notable is Ash Wood.

Rhododendron and bamboo were introduced at one time as game shooting cover, but both species had become invasive and dominated the ancient woodland understorey causing severe damage to the native ground flora, smothering and suppressing the any natural tree regeneration within Ash wood.

The invasive species had created an impenetrable barrier to the ancient woodland to naturally recover. Ancient woodland is one of the richest and most diverse habitats we have and encompasses the whole spectrum from soils, fungi, plants, and animals.

Unfortunately, many of our ancient woodlands are in biodiversity decline due to a historic lack of appropriate management or neglect, so the project aim is to begin to restore the ancient woodland and secure the native woodland components currently under threat, by physically removing the invasive species and controlling any invasive recolonisation by the Rhododendron and Bamboo in the first year and then replanting with 1,000 young native trees and shrubs in the second year.


The project has generated lots of interest from local farmers, and the Stour Valley Farmer Cluster have taken an educational tour of the woodland with talks from the farmer, Jonathan Minter, the Cluster Advisor Fiona Wells, and Sam Hanks from Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Defra representatives have visited to see the impact of Farming in Protected Landscapes funding on the woodland so far.

For the next stage of the project, school children from Boxted St Peters CE Primary school, which already uses the farm and woods for its forest school classes will help in planting the new trees.