Over half of the total land area managed by the Steyning Downland Scheme is secondary woodland, meaning woodland which has grown up on land once used for farming or another land use. Most of this grows on the steep scarp slope known locally as the Horseshoe Woods. Aerial photographs taken in 1947 show this area was scrubby grassland at that time, meaning most of our woods are less than 80 years old:
We also have two small areas of ancient woodland which is woodland which is believed to have had continuous tree cover since at least 1600 AD. These are on the steep slope at the top of the Rifle Range (around the Targets area) and the wooded ghyll at the source of the Mill Stream:
With help from local ecologist Petra Billings we are developing a woodland management plan for all our woodland, to maximise its nature conservation potential. Watch this space for news and updates!