Here is some information on the our local area, including the wildlife and walks you may find enjoyable.
Grafton Wood is the largest of the remnants of Feckenham Forest. It is a nature reserve jointly owned by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation with SSSI status. It comprises approximately 150 acres of hazel and ash coppice with oak standards. The wood was previously owned by the Croome Estate who, apart from planting two small plots of conifers and leasing the shooting rights, undertook very little management work. Coppice management has now been reintroduced in the centre of the wood and the rides have been opened up to allow more light to reach woodland floor. This will encourage a better flora and therefore more invertebrates. The management work is done partly by professionals financed from grants and also a good deal of volunteer work from members of the two organisations. Since its purchase in 1997, the wildlife has improved considerably. Surveys of the birdlife, butterfly populations, flora and small mammals are carried out by volunteers year to monitor the effects of management.
Woodland is a very important habitat for Britain's butterflies with the best woods in southern England supporting upwards of 30 species. Historically, some of the richest woods for butterflies and moths were those where regular woodland management meant that trees were cut on rotation, creating areas open to the sun where wild flowers and shrubs, many of which were used for nectaring and egg-laying, could flourish. This form of woodland management known as coppicing has mainly died out and most of our woods have become dark and shady places, largely unsuitable for insects and also plants which require open sunny areas in which to thrive. In parts of Grafton Wood, the old system of rotational coppicing is being reintroduced and some rides and tracks are being gradually widened to benefit insects requiring open and sunny conditions. Butterflies are the most obvious beneficiaries of this work.
There are more than 1800 different invertebrate species in Britain and Ireland which are dependent on decaying wood in order to complete their life cycles. This represents about 6% of the entire British invertebrate fauna - decaying wood is a major resource! This means more than 1800 different lifestyles , since each species has very particular requirements. These statistics really bring home just how diverse a habitat decaying wood can be. Very few invertebrates possess the necessary gut enzymes to break down the principal components of wood - cellulose and lignin. Most rely on fungi and/or micro-organisms to convert these compounds into more digestible materials. Conservation of decaying wood communities requires the protection of a diverse age structure of woody plants in order to ensure continuity of habitats.
A lot of the work done in Grafton Wood is undertaken by volunteers. This work includes coppicing, ride widening and maintenance. The volunteers meet on the second Sunday of each month from October through to March. All helpers are welcome.
The Grafton Rings are a number of circular walks starting and finishing at the Three Parishes Hall. View PDF
Here are some useful maps to help with walking in the local area: