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Wildlife, trees and plants at Victory Wood

This newly established woodland is home to a variety of butterflies and other insects, including the damselfly, dragonfly and the rare heath fritillary butterfly.

As dusk falls, you may see nightjars gliding through the area on silent wings and hear their chirring call. Listen closely enough and you may be able to hear the sound of woodpeckers and some of the 35 pairs of nightingales that call the wood home. You might even catch a glimpse of a tawny owl or buzzard as they hunt in the woodland and over the open ground.

Trees and plants

Over the four years following the site’s acquisition in 2004, extensive community effort established secondary woodland covering 103.8ha (256 acres) on the ridge along the southern boundary. This new wood now links together Blean Wood to the west and Ellenden Wood to the east, which had been connected by ancient woodland along the ridge until this was gradually reduced to make way for agriculture in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

(Photo: WTML / John Bridges)

The new woodland was planted with field maple, silver birch, downy birch, hornbeam, hazel, hawthorn, beech, ash, holly, wild cherry, blackthorn, oak, goat willow, elder, wild service, guelder rose and various woody shrubs.

Our work here has reversed the fragmentation of ancient woodland on the site and, with conservation management and the creation of woodland and non-woodland habitats, will provide good diversity for wildlife. Though ground flora is absent over much of the woodland area, in the ancient woodland, ground flora includes plants such as bluebell and wood anemone, which are indicators of the ancient status of the woodland.

In autumn 2006, just under a third of the site’s open ground habitat was sown with a grass mixture containing four types of rye, plus timothy, cocksfoot and wild red clover. Areas of wild flowers were also sown over this habitat, and these will, over the years, spread out into the surrounding grassland.

With help from grazing livestock, such as sheep and cattle, this former arable land will slowly develop to form a rich wildlife mosaic of grazed lowland wood pasture, blackthorn and hawthorn thickets, and individual/groups of trees.