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Battle to save ancient woodland goes digital

A Farnborough resident has created a Facebook page to try to stop Hawley Woods tree felling

Following concerns of tree felling at Hawley Woods, a Farnborough resident has set up a Facebook page to ensure the site is maintained and managed properly.

The News & Mail reported recently that a number of trees on the site, which is owned by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), were being thinned by contractors as part of a forest maintenance programme which takes place every five to 10 years.

The site, which is also known as Hawley Common, is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) – which recognises it as one of the country’s best wildlife and geological sites.

Natural England works with more than 26,000 separate owners and land managers to conserve SSSIs, however, Pinewood Park resident Harry Wood said the extensive operations to remove trees within Hawley Woods were destroying its wildlife.

He said some of the trees being removed were up to 100 years old.

Mr Wood has since set up a page on social media site Facebook, entitled Hawley Woods Preservation Group, to ensure the site is preserved correctly.

He said: "I created the Facebook group as a voice and source of information for local people who use Hawley Woods because they are one factor not taken into consideration in the management of the area.

"People have been using the area for recreation for decades.

"I think that as a publicly funded body the MoD should take account of the views and wishes of the local people and other interest groups."

The page shows images of some of the fungi species that are currently found within the woods as well as pictures and videos of recent felling operations.

Mr Wood said: "The MoD doesn’t consider there is a need to consult local people over how they use their land.

"Now many of the small paths have been blocked with brash, preventing access routes through the woodlands used by walkers, joggers, dog walkers, bike riders and horse riders.

"All these activities should be encouraged for the health and wellbeing of local people, not hindered by seemingly deliberate actions.

"The large amount of brash left close to Pinewood Park is a fire risk.

"There are fires in the woodland every year.

"The forest in the heavily visited areas now looks like some vandals have driven bulldozers through it and left behind piles of trash.

"People told me some of the felling operations were carried out late at night by spotlight within yards of houses, disturbing local residents," added Mr Wood.

Mark Neil, business development director at Landmarc Support Services, which carries out forestry operations for the MoD training areas, said the site is managed for maintenance and all the work undertaken has a forest conservation felling licence and has been approved.

Mr Neil explained that if the woodland is not properly maintained, the shrubs on the ground cannot continue to grow.

 
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