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Recent activities and news


November and December work sessions



Sunday 7th November 2021 was our first proper volunteer session for a very long time and it was lovely to have five new volunteers come along for it. We split into two groups- One cut back North Hedge which runs along the Golf Club driveway. FHBW planted this hedge years ago and we cut it back to help it thicken, as well as to keep it off the driveway. 




The second group reduced the height of the Elm hedge that runs alongside Ditchling Road. We do this because the Bark Beetles that spread Dutch Elm disease fly at a height of around 9 metres so trees above this height are more likely to get the disease. So far the hedge has remained disease free. A fun session and beautiful weather for it!



 In December we had another lovely sunny day for our volunteer work session. We carried on with the tasks from November, so trimming back the North Hedge and reducing the height of the Ditchling Road Elm hedge. Again, it was great to have some more new volunteers join us in the sunshine, plus Panettone and Mince pies at tea break made for a great session.





Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods – 30th anniversary

Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods celebrated 30 years of existence in October 2021 with a fantastic meal at the lovely Cleveland Arms. Our Chair, Peter Jarman, gave a speech reminding us of the history of the group which was formed after the 1987 Great Storm. Virtually all the Beech trees blew down that night and it was obvious that there was an opportunity to manage the area as new vegetation grew, creating glades to allow more light in and increase biodiversity, as well as keeping as many fallen trees as possible to decompose naturally.  A small local group got together, discussed their ideas with the Council, and FHBW was formed! The woods are completely different now; new trees have grown up, the glades have matured and are full of wildflowers, and new paths have been created so that people can enjoy the area.  FHBW itself has grown too and is now a large volunteer group with about 60 members.  We raised our glasses to all those successes. Cheers!



Sad news – ash dieback



Burstead Wood - ash bud


In 2012 the spores of this fungal pathogen were found on Ash trees in the south-east and it has now spread to all counties of England.  It is thought that the disease arrived on imported nursey stock from Europe, but the spores could also have been blown across the channel.  Unfortunately, some of the Ash trees in our woods have already succumbed and others are showing signs of the disease. 


As there is a high percentage of Ash in our woods we sought further clarification from the Council’s arboriculture team to carry out a survey and assess the situation.


The newly appointed Ash Dieback Officer for Brighton Council has now assessed the extent of the problem in the woods. As we suspected, there is a lot of Ash Dieback, particularly in Burstead Woods. The Council will begin to clear the affected trees in November which will dramatically change so our woodland landscape.  Although very sad it will give us an opportunity to plant a more mixed woodland and create new glades.  Some of the beautiful veteran Beech trees will be more prominent, and there will be plenty of wood piled on the ground for our decomposers


Burstead Wood - ash flower




Woodland projects


Chalk banks


Our Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods group created a south-facing chalk bank at the top end of Hollingbury Park just below the golf club access road. The purpose of this bank is to encourage the growth of downland wildflowers which support some of the rarer downland butterflies and bees.


We planted seeds and wildflower plugs into artificially created piles of chalk, and were extremely pleased that by mid-summer the banks were a riot of gorgeous colours with red poppies, yellow corn marigolds, white ox-eye daisies and blue cornflowers

Hollingbury Woods - chalk banks





Our group planted a long hedge along the golf club access road. If you walk along the hedge from east to west, you'll see the difference between the oldest part, which is well established, and the newer sections near the recycling bins off Ditchling Road. We have also erected a fence along the southern boundary of Hollingbury Woods in Hollingbury Rise West. This attracted good feedback from local residents who said they appreciate the work we do.


South Downs National Park


The boundaries of FHBW woods have not, we think, ever been formally defined.  However, in practice we have taken the road to the Golf Clubhouse as marking the northern limit of Hollingbury Woods, and we have not been active beyond the east-west path at the northern end of Burstead Woods.  In discussions with the Council and Hollingbury Golf Club, we were given the authority to carry out woodland management activities in these two further areas. As each of these areas fall within the boundary of the South Downs National Park, we were delighted.


National Park Wood – Hollingbury Wood - Tree planting and new coppice


To the north of the golf club access road, we defined a path, planted bluebells, cleared a glade, planted a number of native trees, and planted a hazel coppice. 





Butterfly Glade – Burstead Wood – Clearance and wildflower planting


A new circular path was built by this new glade at the north end of Burstead Wood. This glade is in an especially sunny part of the wood, and it should attract numerous butterflies. We’ve cleared some of the growth, leaving the nettles in place, and planted native wildflowers that are beneficial to butterflies.








Woodland Management Aims


A management plan for Hollingbury and Burstead Woods was created by FHBW in conjunction with Brighton and Hove City Council in early 2012. See details on the Council website.


The goals of the plan are to:


·          Maintain the woodland

·         Support wildlife

·         Balance the woodland tree population

·         Conserve and enhance the natural beauty of the woodland

·         Encourage public awareness and enjoyment of the woods

·         Enable responsible public access to the woods


The key themes in the plan are:


·          Creating a butterfly glade and new path at the north end of Burstead Woods in the South Downs National Park

·         Increasing the woods slightly at the edges of Hollingbury Park to encourage more wildlife

·         Increasing wildlife habitat by felling a few larger trees due to the reduced amount of lying dead wood

·         Safeguarding and nurturing a few key large old trees as “Veterans”

·         Thinning young trees that have grown after the 1987 storm – to increase diversity

·         Deterring litter, dumping and dog fouling – and other anti-social behaviour







Page last updated: 31 March 2022

Friends of Hollingbury and Burstead Woods