November 2015: Castle Wood suffering from at least 10 years of neglect, says independent expert

An independent report commissioned by HCWG from the highly respected Scottish forestry expert, Donald McPhillimy, says Castle Wood has suffered at least 10 years of neglect. Despite being on the Ancient Woodland register and carrying the local authority designations of Tree Preservation Order (TPO), Local Nature Conservation Site (LNCS) and Open Space Protection Area (OSPA) it has continued to decline. This is in stark contrast to the adjacent and well managed Duchess Wood, which is much larger and much better managed.

According to Mr McPhillemy, the key issues are firstly, invasive species in the form of laurel, Rhododendron ponticum and to a lesser extent, sycamore. Secondly, drains have become blocked and the woodland is very wet in places. Some water is seeping out and causing a hazard for adjacent properties. Thirdly, a few trees are leaning out over neighbouring properties and are a cause for concern. Finally, the wood is suffering from low level anti-social behaviour, mainly in the form of littering.

Mr McPhillemy concluded that locally responsive community management offers the best hope to reverse the decline in fortune suffered through the abandonment of Castle Wood. HCWG remains determined to bring this about as soon as possible.

Download Donald McPhillemy’s report here