Biological Surveys

Since 2000 numerous surveys have been undertaken on the nature reserve on both the trees and the wildlife associated with them.

Invertebrate Surveys: One significant piece of work was undertaken by the Barbara Shulten and John Ismay of the Oxford Natural History Museum on the beetle and fly population within the wood. This was completed in March 2004.

  • Their work revealed a highly significant population of insects. A total of 391 species were recorded, 286 Diptera (true flies) and 105 Coleoptera (beetles). Of these 56 species were of conservation concern and a further 24 species, are considered to have a localised distribution. Also found were 2 species, which were recently described as new to science. The latter are scarce, but not enough information is available yet to allocate conservation status. The fungus gnats included 98 species, almost 20% of the British Fauna, of which 16 had conservation status. In comparison, the much larger Epping Forest, surveyed over several decades, had 50% of the British Fauna.
  • 34% of the Diptera and Coleoptera recorded are considered to be dependent as larvae on decaying wood or associated fungi and of these 29% had conservation status or had only a localised distribution. The results show that the rare species in Chigwell Row Wood LNR are predominantly associated with ancient woodland. This illustrates the high quality of the woodland. Due to favourable management, i.e. pollarding, scrub clearance and scattering of dead wood, the scarcer species are spreading into the younger areas of woodland. The results show that dead wood is extremely important in Chigwell Row Wood LNR and many of the species recorded are scarce.

Tree Surveys: Much of the character of this fantastic area of ancient woodland comes from the many old pollards found throughout the LNR and they are vital to the survival of the  unique invertebrate population associated with them. The protection and correct management of these old trees is essential for the survival of the woodland in its existing form.

  • A formal survey and recommendations for the management of these pollards had always been desirable and in 2007 following a grant application to the Green Arc the money was finally available for this to happen.
  • James Curry Arborists were commissioned to carry out the survey and this was completed in March 2008. The survey included the tagging of trees for future identification, species, height of bolling, total overall height, maximum crown spread, diameter at breast height, circumference of sound bark, and comments on condition and recommendations for management.
  • In total 366 veteran pollards were recorded, 75% were Hornbeam, 20% Oak, with the remainder made up of Ash, Holly, Hawthorn and Goat Willow. This is an extremely high density in such a small wood reflecting the woods links with Hainault Forest. All of these pollards are  over 250 years of age with many possibly much older. The lack og management has left many of the trees vulnerable to structural failure especially in high winds. They are also being stressed by competition from younger trees which have colonised over the last 150 years.
  • The survey has revealed many of the tree require sympathetic management to keep them standing. This will mainly involve crown reductions which will reduce their weight and help  reduce the sail affect of their crowns. The hallowing around the pollards to reduce competition will also be a major project over the coming years especially to the oaks which prefer standing in more open conditions. Thanks to the survey we can now prove how many veteran pollards the wood contains, how important they are for the wildlife of the wood and how easily they could be lost.  The survey should help secure further grant money to carry out the recommended work so that the wood and its unique character will continue to be enjoyed by future generations.
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