One woodland that stands out in my time at GWT was Box Wood, on the edge of Box Village in Gloucestershire; a must-visit at this time of year, due to the abundance of Bluebells and Ransoms. With the aid of an avid local community, I managed this wood to increase its biodiversity potential and habitat connectivity in the landscape. I started by opening up the very overgrown glades in the wood where species-rich grassland had once been present. Glades are the heart and lungs of a woodland, where sunlight allows ground flora such as Primrose, Cowslip and Dog Violets to flourish. The latter is the food plant of the Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly, a fantastically large butterfly that spends most of its adult life in the tops of large trees, only coming down to ground level to source nectar and lay eggs.
To remove some of the bramble on sections of these glades, the top four to five inches of soil also needed taking out to leave areas of bare soil and stone. This gives less vigorous plants (such as Wood Ruff and Wood Anemones) an opportunity to grow without having to compete with the likes of bramble and Rosebay willow herb. Spoil from these areas was used to make low banks around some of the edges of the glade by piling it on top of logs and stones. This provides an excellent habitat for amphibians, toads, newts and small mammals such as bank voles and shrews. Three years after the scrapes had been dug, the number of flowering species in the area had grown from six to thirty-five, including two species of orchid: Twayblade and Common Spotted.