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Conserving the Forest Fringe

Earlier this week, we took a tour of some of the Forest’s beautiful landscape, guided by Sean Marsh, Trainee Estates Officer for the Forestry Commission. Sean leads the Conserving the Forest Fringe project within the Heritage Lottery Funded Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme. You can find out more about the scheme at

Working closely with local communities, Sean removes visual encroachments and restores the Forest’s historic boundaries through practical work, advice and training. Encroachments range from scrub and non-native invasive plants (such as rhododendron) growing over boundaries onto grass verges to fences exceeding property boundaries.

As we travelled through Nomansland and Bramshaw, we saw how unauthorized parking is negatively affecting the local environment and wildlife; wearing down grass that roaming animals would have grazed upon and sometimes narrowing roads for passing traffic. To prevent the ground from deteriorating and to help restore already damaged areas of grass, narrow wooden posts called ‘dragons’ teeth’ are planned to be installed. These posts prevent further damage and are made from locally coppiced chestnut, which is highly durable and in-keeping with the Forest’s character.

nomansland - conserving the forest fringe opof

These logs are placed by residents to prevent further parking on verges; they will be replaced by 'dragons' teeth' by the Forestry Commission. It's clear to see how worn the grass is and why it's important to prevent further unauthorised parking.

Working closely with local parishes and distributing leaflets, encourages them to become more actively involved in the maintenance of the land; whether it’s working together to install ‘dragons’ teeth’ or consulting on boundaries to reclaim Forest land.

Similarly, developing relationships and mutual understanding with local residents is essential to ensure fences and other constructions adhere to regulations and do not encroach on vital grazing land. Sean will run drop in sessions for the parishes he works with to educate them about boundary features and explain how as a community they can help protect the Forest and allow it and the animals roaming the landscape to prosper. He is also equally happy to travel and meet residents to offer advice and discuss boundary issues that concern them.

Enroachment - conserving the forest fringe opof

An example of encroachment on the landscape due to residential properties exceeding their boundaries.

Sean’s role also requires him to address fly-tipping, which can pose potentially serious consequences for the Forest’s ecology. Typically, when we think of fly-tipping, we might imagine piles of industrial waste or faulty washing-machines. However natural waste can be equally problematic. Grass cuttings, for example, can cause colic in grazing animals, leading to a slow and painful death. Garden waste can also suppress or damage surrounding vegetation, encouraging the spread of invasive non-native species at the expense of those native to the Forest. As we passed a long and towering wall of rhododendrons, the potential ecological consequences of fly-tipping were made clear. 

The best way to prevent these issues is by reaching out to educate and inform residents and tourists – both new and old. Through cooperation and collaboration, the Forest’s landscape can be restored, maintained and protected for future generations.

You can find out more about the Conserving the Forest Fringe project on our website.

This entry was posted by Communications on Monday 17/10/2016


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