Thursday, 31 December 2015

CPRE Hampshire member awarded OBE!

A Hampshire volunteer and countryside campaigner from Petersfield has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours for services to the South Downs and to countryside campaigning.

Christopher Napier, a member of CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and a past Chairman of its Hampshire branch, based at St Cross, Winchester, has been honoured for his work to protect and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside.

CPRE Hampshire’s Chairman, Dee Haas, from Ellisfield nr Basingstoke, said: “I have observed Christopher Napier's dedication to the preservation of the Hampshire countryside and he continues to fight to keep our countryside unspoilt and tranquil. This recognition is truly deserved.”

Christopher Napier OBE

Admiral Sir Brian Brown, Vice President of CPRE Hampshire, said: "The major achievement of Christopher Napier has been to mobilise widespread support for the concept of the South Downs becoming a National Park and then to prepare and present highly professional evidence which secured inclusion of appropriate parts of the Weald within that designation.

“He has been a powerful and very effective advocate for the natural and man-made heritage of the county of Hampshire. In addition to CPRE at national and county levels a lot of his time has been involved in helping a range of other organisations, including The Petersfield Society, the South Downs Joint Committees and the Drum Housing Association.”

Christopher Napier who is currently Chairman of CPRE Hampshire’s voluntary Planning and Policy Group said: "I am delighted to receive this award and am grateful for the willing support of our dedicated CPRE staff and volunteers. It has been a pleasure to meet so many people around the county who have the wellbeing of our countryside at heart.”

CPRE Hampshire believes a beautiful, thriving countryside is important for everyone, no matter where they live. Its work in the county spans wide-ranging countryside and rural issues – from landscapes, hedgerows and dark skies, to housing and planning, farming and food, transport, energy and waste and the rural economy.

2016 is CPRE Hampshire’s 50th anniversary and it has a busy year of campaigns, projects and events. It has recently launched a Green Belt campaign. To find out more about the charity visit

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

CPRE Hampshire launches new campaign for South Hampshire Green Belt

Ahead of the devolution negotiation due to be held in London next Tuesday, and 65 years after the concept was first mooted, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (Hampshire) is calling on the county’s Leaders to forge ahead with a new Green Belt for South Hampshire.¹

As it stands, the devolution plans contain a proposal to increase housing delivery but with the reassurance of a Green Belt option. The campaigners want this to stay and for local authority leaders to gain the Government’s commitment to Green Belt on behalf of the public.

A detailed briefing paper² has been prepared which has been sent to all 15 of Hampshire’s Council Leaders and their Chief Executives and is available from the charity’s website It includes maps over the period from 1965 to date.

CPRE Hampshire’s Chairman, Dee Haas said: “South Hampshire would benefit greatly from a new Green Belt which would create a more cohesive structure for the big cities while allowing them to grow and develop in a sustainable manner. The Devolution proposals of 2015 now give Hampshire authorities a chance to revisit the plans of some 65 years ago and commit to a Green Belt designed to meet its five basic purposes³, all of which accord with the South Hampshire Strategy of today.”

Dee Haas, Chairman, 
CPRE Hampshire.

Green Belts are large areas of land recognised as needing to be kept free of major housing development. These areas help to protect towns and cities, preventing them sprawling into the countryside.  Green Belts in other areas of the UK are much valued by local people, as formally designated land, promoting urban identity and helping to save the countryside.

Nationally, CPRE is campaigning for a strong Government commitment to uphold existing policy and carry out an urgent review of the latest threats to the Green Belt. On the 60th anniversary of Green Belt becoming government policy, a poll commissioned by CPRE shows clear support for Green Belt.

Notes to editors

1.           Green Belt in Hampshire

Hampshire has almost no Green Belt, apart from around the Avon Valley and New Milton. However, it ‘nearly’ had a substantial Green Belt around the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton on a number of occasions.

Latterly the county had Strategic Gaps which were the alternatives offered by government, but they lost their policy status with the demise of the South East Plan. Now, there is renewed interest in a Green Belt designated around the cities and protecting the rural hinterland of South Hampshire.

In South Hampshire in the 1950s, Bournemouth, Poole, Southampton and Portsmouth were looking for geographic restraints. By 1957 a Hampshire Coast Green Belt was proposed extending from Totton and Chandlers Ford through to Hayling Island in the east.  It touched the southern tip of Winchester, and was some ten miles deep along the whole of the Hampshire coast. CPRE was represented at the Green Belt Public Inquiry held at Winchester in June 1959.

The principle of a Hampshire Coastal Green Belt was at that time accepted by government but mysteriously never happened.  A South West Hampshire Green Belt was eventually approved just around Bournemouth, and in 2006 it was re-designated as part of the New Forest National Park.

The then Leader of Hampshire County Council, Ken Thornber supported the proposal for a Hampshire Green Belt which he said would “I believe go further than the strategic gaps in providing long term security and protection for the individual character of our Cities, Towns, Villages and Countryside.”

2.            The briefing paper. A full copy of the briefing paper is available on request from 07876 780065 or

3.            Current Government policy on Green Belts is clearly set out in Planning Policy Guidance and their five basic purposes are to:

-              Check unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas

-              Prevent neighbouring towns from merging with one another
-              Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
-              Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns, and
-              Assist with urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Three New Forest winners at CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards

Lord-Lieutenant honours winners of CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards

A school, a farm shop, a shipwrights’ school and woodland restoration volunteers all won recognition from a leading countryside conservation charity for their contributions to rural life in Hampshire.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson presented this year’s Campaign to Protect Rural England (Hampshire) Countryside Awards at a ceremony in Itchen Abbas and Avington Village Hall on Friday evening, 25th September 2015.

Lead sponsor of the awards was The Southern Co-operative, whose director of sustainability and communications Gemma Lacey said: “Active and genuine involvement in our local communities is part of The Southern Co-operative’s way of working, so we are delighted to be both lead sponsor and sponsor of the Community and Voluntary category.”

She added: “The standard of entries this year was quite exceptional, which made judging particularly challenging, but we have some outstanding winners who I hope will inspire others across Hampshire to make a positive difference to our countryside.”

The winners

Purbrook Park Secondary School’s Community Vegetable Garden project in Waterlooville won the Young People category, sponsored by Steve's Leaves. The project will leave a legacy to the school and the surrounding community and has helped participating students learn about the countryside, develop skills and mature as citizens.

Pondhead Conservation in Lyndhurst won the Community and Voluntary category, sponsored by The Southern Co-operative, for their project to restore 76 hectares of unique woodland habitat near Lyndhurst by reinstating sustainable coppicing. The conservation volunteers have opened up previously inaccessible areas of woodland to the public and created more diverse habitats for wildlife. The timber cut is being used to make charcoal for sale locally in the New Forest.

Winners and corporate sponsors of the CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards 2015

Winner of the Green Buildings category, sponsored by Radian, is Buckler’s Hard Shipwright School Workshop at Beaulieu. The project used only traditional tools and methods to train students, volunteers and apprentices who built a replica 18th Century timber-framed workshop. The building will serve as a training facility for future generations in traditional ship building techniques and related areas such as woodland management.

Hockey’s Farm Shop in South Gorley, near Fordingbridge, won the Rural Enterprise category, sponsored by Dutton Gregory Solicitors. Following two years of extensive restoration, the business showcases local New Forest food and aims to provide the highest quality meats and produce at affordable prices. They also raise their own rare breed of pigs.

Chalk Valley based at the Bossington Estate at Houghton was also highly commended in this category for promoting pasture-raised meats, local organic produce sourced from family farms and the farm-to-table restaurant concept.

The CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards were established in 2007 to recognise projects that enhance the environment and quality of life in the county and to celebrate a beautiful, diverse and living countryside.

·         Follow @CPRE_Hampshire on Twitter and Like CPRE Hampshire on Facebook.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Jelly surprise in Hamble!

On Sunday I was delighted to join friends from the Southampton branch of Sunday Assembly to help with a litter pick on the beach in Hamble.  There were only three of us but as usual I was surprised how much difference even a small gang of volunteers could make to an area in a short time.

Adie from Sunday Assembly Southampton clearing up litter

We found a number of jellyfish washed up on the shore and this is something that a lot of people are finding along the south coast of England at present. It's something to do with the warm weather apparently - the Solent is full of them and once in a while they end up on the beach.

At one point during the clear up we happened to see a cormorant stood peacefully on the beach, glancing around, and wondered if she was taking an interest in the activities of the fishermen up the shore from where she landed.  She stayed for a little while and we got a good look at her, a really beautiful sight which added a wonderful surprise to our happy morning of volunteer work. I can only apologise for not being able to take a better photo of her (I say her - for all I know she could have been a he of course!)

The Cormorant

Tom from Sunday Assembly Southampton

Soon lots of rubbish was cleared up including debris from a barbecue, a bit of a number plate of a car, some headphones and a rather smart bit of rope that one of the volunteers took with them to re-use! It had been a really satisfying morning at the beach topped off with an ice-cream and a stroll to enjoy the fruits of our efforts.  We often list beach clean ups and litter picks on our website so please do have a look at for more details on getting involved!

At the beach after the litter pick - note the big gun at Hamble
Special thanks to Sunday Assembly Southampton for their hard work - for more information about them please go to their Facebook page at

Poppies near the shore at Hamble


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Green Hampshire - Open Meeting on Earth Day

We had a great meeting last week and it was wonderful to meet some of the people we are in contact with in person.  The meeting took place in the very smart offices of our kind hosts, Kaplan Financial in Southampton.

Adam Manning started proceedings by explaining that Green Hampshire is an online project to help volunteers take part in environmental and conservation events all over our beautiful county of Hampshire.

It all started some four years ago in the spring of 2011 when a group of friends tweeted about using the online world to help people get involved.  The original conception was a blog with a rolling list of upcoming events so if you were interested in taking part in an environmental event you could have a look at the list and see which ones might be of interest to you.

A friend called Nicky Hirst kindly put us in touch with a very energetic and charismatic chap called Max Thompson to see if he might be interested. Max really seemed to get behind the concept and he came up with a name for it : Green Hampshire.  He and his colleagues created some great branding and design for Green Hampshire and soon the website was ready to roll!

Max Thompson outside the offices of our wonderful hosts Kaplan Financial

After a bit of prompting from Max, the website started filling up with details for events.  Very soon it became clear to us that Twitter was the ideal tool to spread the word and the twitter account has grown steadily ever since. We’re now at over 7,000 followers – one of the larger accounts focusing on Hampshire. 

The central idea is to get details of events like conservation projects, litter picks, talks and walks and so forth out there to as many people as possible in the hope that this will increase the amount of people participating.  The more the details of these events are disseminated, the more likely people are to get involved as someone somewhere will have that magic combination of it being at the right time, in the right place and doing the right activity to get them motivated enough to go and do it.  That is the underlying philosophy behind the concept – increasing the probability that someone somewhere will find what you are doing interesting and convenient enough to motivate them to take part.

And we know it works.  For a while we’ve been going along to events and we've been told that other people are there after finding out about it through Green Hampshire.  It’s been really exciting learning that the concept has had practical results.

Recently we learned of something new that suggests that Green Hampshire is already growing beyond the original conception of helping volunteers to go along to events.  A friend from Gosport called Graham Smith is organizing a great project consisting of a number of litter picks and clear ups round the Portsmouth/Gosport area. Graham tells me that someone has very kindly come forward to organize a litter pick as part of this project after hearing about it through Green Hampshire.

Adam with Matt Rawlins 

So – as well as helping volunteers to get involved in environmental events, Green Hampshire has been helping create the events themselves! It's exciting that Green Hampshire is now growing beyond the original concept.  We're thrilled about where we've come from and are looking to the future with new ideas to take the concept further.

Next, Lewis March gave a presentation about his survey that he has conducted on how volunteers are interested in participating in environmental and conservation events and the results of his survey are here :  In particular Lewis had noted that training was of interest to volunteers particularly in the area of leadeership. Lewis' survey is a great help to us in considering how we go forward.

Max then spoke to us about the future for Green Hampshire.  We're looking into developing Green Hampshire so it can help volunteers and organizations even more. This may include profiles and pages for both volunteers and organizations, rewards and awards for volunteers participating in events and encouraging and assisting companies with their corporate social responsibility policies.

Pages for voluntary groups, particularly smaller ones without the resources of the larger ones, will help highlight the great events and projects they are involved in. The role of schools and helping them get involved was discussed as well and we noted that we already have some good links with organizations that work with children and schools with this aspect of education.

So we're hoping to move it on from it being a list of events to being a more fully developed platform that encourages participation in environmental and conservation events in lots of ways. As part of this plan, we're always on the look out for people who would like to contribute an article to our blog at We are also looking into rolling the concept out to other counties.

It had been a useful meeting and we are excited about moving on with further steps in expanding our range of activities.  Thanks to Southampton Voluntary Services and Southampton University Students Union Environment and Ethics Committee for joining us and in particular to Matt Rawlins and Kaplan Financial Southampton for being our kind hosts.

If you would like to get in touch to join us on this exciting journey please contact us at

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Countryside Awards 2015 from CPRE Hampshire

Information for Entrants

About the Countryside Awards

The Countryside Awards are organised by the Hampshire branch of CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the countryside conservation charity. The lead sponsor of the 2015 Countryside Awards is The Southern Co-operative.

Now in their 9th year, the Countryside Awards celebrate a beautiful, diverse and living countryside that everyone can value and enjoy. The spirit of this can be found in a project, product, building, business, service or social enterprise. More than 50 projects have been recognised by an award to date.

CPRE Hampshire welcome entries from all sections of the community; projects both big and small which support their mission of ‘standing up for the countryside’. These could involve volunteers, the community, young people and business representatives. The Awards categories are:

 Community and Voluntary
 Young People
 Rural Enterprise
 Green Buildings

How to enter

Read the category descriptions and the eligibility information below. To enter, complete the short entry form ( send it to CPRE Hampshire with some supporting photos. This year’s closing date for receipt of completed entries is 30th June 2015.

Community and Voluntary category, sponsored by The Southern Co-operative

This category is for community and voluntary organisations and enterprises, including charitable projects and schemes run by parish councils, local interest or amenity groups. It includes but is not limited to preservation or environmental initiatives and community involvement in neighhourhood planning or local transport. 

Qualities looked for include:

 A high level of community involvement, particularly of volunteers from a range of social backgrounds and/or age groups
 Projects and schemes which encourage a wide range of people to connect with the countryside, particularly those from urban areas
 Ability to show how the project helps to increase access to the countryside for those outside the local community, particularly those from urban areas
 The prioritisation of environmental, conservation or restoration within the rural or urban environment
 An appreciation of the inherent value of landscape
 Sustainability and ability to show how much difference the project will make to the local community in the future
 Involvement of the community in anti-litter/fly-tipping, recycling schemes, saving energy and reducing carbon footprints
 Educational elements

Young People category, sponsored by Steve’s Leaves

This category is for projects involving young people up to the age of 18 and could include but is not limited to schools, colleges, youth groups, scouts, guides, cubs and brownies and youth offender programmes. 

Qualities looked for include:

 Engaging a large number and/or wide range of young people, especially older children at secondary and college level
 High level of involvement by the young people concerned
 Effectiveness in connecting young people to the countryside and promotion of its value as a national resource for everyone to enjoy
 Fun factor
 Leaving a legacy - either through the project’s long-term sustainability or by producing information from which others can learn
 Access to all - especially concerning the disabled and involvement of children that would not normally have such an opportunity
 Use of landscape and environmental and rural issues as an opportunity for learning and linking to the curriculum (as appropriate), e.g. management of a wildlife area, recycling, the growing of food crops and the linkage to health, well-being and the environment
 Sensitivity to local ecology
 An awareness of sustainability issues

 Rural Enterprise category, sponsored by Dutton Gregory Solicitors

This category is for business or council organisations which, through their work, either directly or indirectly enhance the rural environment and the rural economy. 

Qualities to look for include:

 Community and stakeholder involvement
 Conservation of the countryside
 Innovation
 Employment of local people
 Promotion of countryside related crafts
 Promotion of local foods
 Businesses or organisations which enhance the nature of rural settlements
 Contribution to a thriving and sustainable countryside
 Projects which deal with recycling, climate change or sustainability
 Sustainable transport
 Reduction of light pollution
 Preservation of tranquillity
 Reduction of fly-tipping, litter or roadside clutter

Green Buildings category, sponsored by Radian

This category is for businesses and organisations including architects, developers, parish councils, housing associations and renewable energy companies. 

Qualities to look for include:

 Projects which show creative use of brownfield land and/or regeneration of existing buildings
 Conservation projects that respect the qualities of original fabric and design and/or local materials and distinctiveness
 Buildings that help people connect or reconnect with green spaces and/or the countryside
 Buildings which enhance the nature of rural settlements
 Projects that factor in density to maximise the use of available land
 Buildings that maximise the use of eco-technologies to help reduce carbon footprint(s)
 Employment of local people or craftsmen
 Community involvement
 Innovation

Eligibility, dates and judging

Projects must be within Hampshire and have been completed within three years of the closing date of entry, i.e. between July 2012 and July 2015.

CPRE Hampshire accept on-going projects but to make sure the awards remain relevant, the entry must relate to something new to the project that has not been running for longer than three years of the closing date of entry. Projects are entitled to re-enter but future entries must be materially different from the previous entry and consequently must represent a different stage of the overall project.

The judges will consider all entries received by 5pm on 30th June 2015. Please refer to the category list and the qualities CPRE Hampshire look for when completing the attached entry form. For a list of previous finalists please contact Nicola Revolta, Branch Development Officer.

The judging panel is appointed by CPRE Hampshire’s Executive Committee and supported by the lead sponsor, The Southern Co-operative and the sponsors of each individual category. The panel is authorised to make Awards on behalf of the Branch. The judges bring a mixture of personal expertise and professional experience combined with a passion for our lovely county. Their backgrounds are commonly in environmental conservation, business and the community. At least one Trustee of CPRE Hampshire is on the judging panel.

The judges meet to assess entries and select approximately three finalists in each category. Site visits to finalists take place between August and mid-September 2015. The winners will then be determined. All entrants will be notified of the judges’ decision and those projects selected for site visits, plus any others the judges consider worthy of special awards, will be invited to the Countryside Awards Ceremony on the evening of Friday 25th September 2015 at Itchen Abbas and Avington Village Hall, Winchester.

The 2015 sponsors

Lead sponsor - The Southern Co-operative 

As a co-operative - with its roots in Hampshire and around 170 food stores across the south - the well-being of the local and wider community is at the heart of its business. Colleagues are actively involved in supporting community groups in many ways, often working in partnership with others, to support environmental, economic and social sustainability projects. This support comes from the belief that, with a combination of funding, practical help, advice and co-operation, The Southern Co-operative can assist local people to make a real difference to their environment.

Steve's Leaves, a brand of Vitacress Salads Ltd is comprised of a bunch of pioneering farmers who grow tasty, nutritious baby leaves on their nature friendly farms where 10% of the land is dedicated to nature. They build special habitats to encourage wildlife and make decisions about landscape usage based upon environmental considerations.

Dutton Gregory Solicitors is a leading multi-service law firm in the South, meeting the needs of companies and private individuals UK-wide. Its expert hands-on teams of solicitors provide specialist legal services to meet all your requirements. Based in Winchester the firm has offices in Hampshire, Dorset and Central London.

Radian is an award-winning organisation which provides affordable homes, care and support across the South East of England and strives to create conditions where its residents, people it supports, communities and staff can flourish.

About CPRE, the Campaign to Protect Rural England

CPRE fights for a better future for the English countryside. They work locally and nationally to protect, shape and enhance a beautiful, thriving countryside for everyone to value and enjoy.

As well as local groups, they have branches in every county; they influence local planning decisions and strategies at district and regional levels. At the Hampshire branch of CPRE they work to defend the Hampshire countryside from damaging development and promote sustainable development; to protect and enhance the character of the local countryside and to increase and harness support for it. They have almost 2,200 members in Hampshire made up of individuals, parish/town councils and other groups/organisations.
Their work spans wide-ranging countryside and rural issues – from landscapes, hedgerows and dark skies, to housing and planning, farming and food, transport, energy and waste and the rural economy.

For more information please contact:

Nicola Revolta
Branch Development Officer
CPRE Hampshire Branch Office
89a St Cross Road
Winchester SO23 9RJ
Tel - 01962 841897 Email –
Twitter @CPRE_Hampshire / Find them on Facebook!
Sign their Charter to save the countryside Join our mailing list to receive our monthly eNewsletter – email

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Bluebells and Brown Trout : in praise of coppicing and coppicers

Green Hampshire are delighted to feature another guest article from our friend Tim Sykes. Tim describes himself as a devout family man, hopeless Triathlete, plump basketball player/fanatic and incurable maple syrup addict. As his articles makes clear, he is passionate about enjoying & conserving our natural world. 

 Tim is a professional ecologist and has worked for the Environment Agency in Hampshire & Isle of Wight area for almost 20 years.

Click on the images for a larger view. Tim has provided the twitter names for a number of the organizations he refers to.

The Environment Agency is commonly associated with ‘wet’ habitats – chalkstreams, ponds, wetlands and wet-woodlands. The recent death of Professor Oliver Rackham, pioneering conservation-thinker and inspiring landscape historian (WoodlandTrust, Telegraph, Guardian), got me to thinking about our relationship with another critical natural capital – woodland; and the Environment Agency’s less obvious role in broadleaved woodland conservation. 

We use a range of natural materials to restore our chalkstreams, and woody debris is our favourite, to make in-stream conditions more complex, benefitting biodiversity.  We also use chestnut stakes to pin-down bundles of hazel sticks, called faggots, and it is the origin of these faggots through coppicing that I think of when I remember Rackham.

Charlotte Sams/WWF-UK.   Hazel faggots, like all woody debris, diversifies habitat, 
benefitting chalkstream flora and fauna. 

Coppicing is the process of cutting trees down, allowing the stumps to regenerate producing many new shoots, rather than a single main stem, and then harvesting the regrowth on a rotational cycle, in ‘coups’, for a variety of uses, in an elegantly sustainable way. The coppice, or shrub layer, is called the ‘underwood’, as in ‘under the woodland canopy’. After the more exacting needs are taken, the left-overs are bound into faggots - bundles of rods, compressed and trussed, often with twisted hazel.

Members of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust @HantsIWWildlife will be familiar with coppicing already - favourite nature reserves like Roydon Woods and Crab Wood, and on the Island, Eaglehead and Bloodstone Copses, Swanpond Copse, Briddlesford Copse, are actively coppiced to support their characteristic biodiversity. 

© Jon Cox.  New coppice, Sandpit Copse, IOW

© Tim Sykes.  Young coppice re-growth. Crab Wood

Coppicing of woodland creates structural diversity: in the early years after cutting, it increases light to the woodland-floor, painting our quintessential ‘English’ scene - a profusion of sun-dappled bluebells.  As the coppice thickens it provides habitat for a succession of woodland plants and animals from nesting birds to woodland mammals. Many of our most threatened iconic woodland species are dependent upon the various stages of coppice growth from wood anemone and woodland fritillaries in the early stages through nightingales and garden warblers in the thicket stage, to dormice – and on the Isle of Wight, Red squirrels and Bechstein’s bats in the later stages of the coppice cycle.

© Hazel coppice, blue bells and ramsons (wild garlic)

© Jon Cox.  Wood anemone, Sandpit Copse, IOW

The pollen record shows hazel has been abundant in the UK from 10,000 cal BC, not long after the last Ice Age.  And archaeological evidence from the early Mesolithic, shows hunter-gatherers systematically exploited hazel for food, fuel and shelter: Pit houses from between c 8200 and c 8000 cal BC have been found containing thousands of hazelnut fragments, in one case representing over a million hazelnuts, with a hazelnut roasting 'hearth'. To Archaeological Research Services Ltd @CarryOnDigging the scale of this exploitation suggests organised and deliberate hazel propagation, something that would have been significantly more efficient with coppice management. Oxford Archaeology @oatweet advise that the general impression is that the techniques of woodland management evident in Neolithic times were already being practised in the Mesolithic period.

Locally, some of the earliest physical evidence for woodland management is found at Wootton Quarr on the Isle of Wight. Isle of Wight Council @iwight describe how hazel and other locally-won wood was used almost continuously over a period spanning from the Neolithic to post-Medieval times, for inter-tidal estuarine fish traps, tracks and platforms. Hazel wattle hurdles and wood from collectively exploited coppiced woodland were also used in numerous tracks across the Somerset Levels, interconnecting settlements in the swamps about 6,000 cal BP.

Ever since, crafts based around harvesting and processing of woodland products, including hazel coppice, have been fundamental in creating and protecting many landscapes and biodiversity we value today. Coppicing provided work for numerous ‘underwood’ workers: cutters, wood merchants, craftsmen and purchasers, and associated rural industries, leaving behind the fascinating traces of archaeological features still evident in our local woodlands.

In many ways, the coppiced underwood was historically used to make and do most of the things we now use fossil fuels to do today – fuel for heat and cooking, and a raw material to make many of the things we now make out of imported wood, metal, or plastic.

Thomas Hardy writing in 1912 said the livelihood of the ‘copse workers’ he had described twenty years earlier, in his novel The Woodlanders, had virtually disappeared with many moving to game-keeping and conifer planting. After the second War, intensive agricultural policy, Government-sponsored commercial forestry, and un-sustainable development reduced the quantum, management and connectivity of our woodlands. 

Consequently many of the traditional coppice woodlands are now in a state of neglect, when the coppice is said to be ‘overstood’ - a habitat of relatively low biodiversity.  Over the last 100 years, the old coppice woods have reverted to a perhaps more natural structure with many more tall trees forming a woodland canopy that sheds a dense shade on the coppiced underwood.  This has left the coppice layer depleted and the remaining coppice stools dead or dying.

Locally, the coppice woodland resource in Hampshire was estimated in 1947 to be 13,000ha from a total of 47,500ha in Southern England: most was described as derelict even then. The in-cycle coppice actually being worked in 1947 was estimated at 1,538ha, and by 1994 to be only 345ha. In 1947 Hampshire accounted for over 30% of the worked hazel coppice in the Country, and by 1994 this had increased to 60%, most of the remainder in Dorset, Wiltshire, West Sussex and Surrey. 

However, the past 20 years has seen a revival in coppice management primarily for conservation purposes.  In 1994 Hampshire County Council @hantsconnect estimated there to be 230 people actively working coppice in the County and claims to have restored over 650ha of derelict woodland back into active coppice management. HCC like Dorset, Sussex and Kent Councils was promoting coppicing, expansion of local markets and supporting people to get into the craft. Now the largest-scale commercial coppice crop in England is sweet chestnut, grown in parts of Sussex and Kent, although locally, alder, ash, field maple, willow and hazel are still coppiced commercially. Many of our woodlands have survived because of their ability to provide coppiced wood – ‘a wood that pays stays’.

Society now enjoys a more enlightened awareness of the importance of sustainable land use, land management, and associated ecosystem services provided by managed woodlands. Communities (local people, special interest groups, future generations) and institutions (professional ecologists, NGOs, Local Authorities) all now have a stake in sustaining these habitats and perpetuating their management. The public volunteer to carry out woodland management, especially associated with NGOs whose aims are more altruistic than commercial - what Rackham calls ‘conservation coppicing’. Funding is now available to help establish and sustain rural small-businesses, as well as enable better woodland management.

Today Hampshire County Council @hantsconnect informally estimate that the potential coppice woodland resource stands at c14,000ha (excluding the New Forest, most of Hampshire’s ancient semi-natural woodland contains derelict ash or hazel coppice), of which between 1-2,000ha is actively worked for coppice.

That new awareness creates new markets too: A revived interest in trees and woodland, traditional crafting skills and demand for locally-sourced natural materials creates local markets for small-scale coppicing activities producing high-value products for new non-agricultural and suburban uses, rather than bulk everyday commodities. And traditional rural trades can still generate demand – a thatched roof typically needs at least 5000 spars; most styles of hedge-laying need stakes and binders from coppiced hazel.

It seems to me it’s a hard life, not without physical stresses and risks, and the bureaucracy around rural small business in not evenly balanced by the available funding support. Furthermore, wild deer numbers have grown hugely over the last 60 years (populations of all species, especially Muntjac continue to grow in numbers and distribution), and now present a massive pressure on new coppice growth. Restoring coppice in the presence of so many wild deer often requires expensive fencing to prevent deer eating all the new coppice shoots.  The Isle of Wight is lucky in having no feral deer to eat the coppice: here over 2 metres of regrowth can be expected in the first year after cutting.

Restoration of overstood coppices can require some radical and sometimes controversial management to bring them back to a working coppice. Canopy trees must be thinned to allow enough light into the underwood and woodland floor.  This sometimes means felling some big old oaks – something many of us find hard to do.  And where does that fit in the wider  ‘re-wilding’ agenda? 

Paradoxically, the socio-economic and environmental drivers that promote an increase in coppicing, albeit local and sensitive, is a contrast to Society’s wider and urgent needs to fundamentally limit the exploitation of most natural resources. The social and economic metrics of the coppice sector has not been calculated in recent years, although increasing interest in determining the value of ecosystem services may hopefully one day be applied to local woodland management.

Whatever the uses, commercial coppicing remains small-scale, localised, collectively unorganised and financially tenuous – practiced by few people and largely out of sight of the public – an underground underwood industry.  Where is the next generation of coppice workers going to come from? The quantum of available potential coppice woodland isn’t a constraint, and it appears that local markets exist, creating an un-met demand. The pool of qualified people, be it coppicers or other woodcrafts i.e. hedge layers, appears to be the limiting factor. The skilled people who coppice woodlands with their traditional crafts, tools and knowledge - the cultural capital - remain an endangered species in their own right.

The Forestry Commission @ForestryCommEng tell me “one of the key drivers for a lot of coppice work these days is for soft engineering, both rivers and coastal, and this is keeping many of the current work force in the woods.” The Environment Agency is indirectly playing a small part in supporting the conservation of our ancient semi-natural woodlands and the associated rural socio-economy, using locally-sourced hazel faggots for ‘soft engineering’ wherever possible, especially in river restoration.

Woody debris (WD) are the logs, sticks, branches and other wood that falls or are introduced into streams and rivers. This debris can influence the flow and the shape of the stream channel, kick-starting natural processes that drive the natural state and functioning of the river system in support of biodiversity, recreation, flood management and landscape development. A diverse water flow affects patterns and rates of sediment erosion and transport creating conditions to form riffles, pools, and temperature variations. It encourages silt to be deposited in some areas while other parts of the river bed are scoured of silt by the fastest flows.

This abiotic diversity is vital to fish because it provides the right circumstances to spawn, rest, feed, hunt, and hide (see The Wild Trout Trust WildTroutTrustItchen). Beds of silt are a critically important habitat for the pre-historic looking brook lamprey, and ‘clean’ gravels are equally essential as spawning beds for brown trout. Invertebrate and plant communities are more diverse in their structure and species composition when flow and channel-form is more diverse. 

© Jon Milliken.  Hazel faggots and egret. River Itchen

© Wild brown trout and woody debris

Clearance of bankside and riparian woodlands and trees for agricultural purposes or by catchment managers for perceived flood control, have deprived rivers of natural woody material input, and exposed roots. And traditional chalkstream management has had a presumption for the removal of WD, on the grounds that it restricts angling access, and could pose a risk of flooding. Many reaches of our chalksteams have been thus degraded, compounded by historic damage from dredging, piling, impounding flows for milling purposes and over-abstraction - all have over-simplified our chalkstreams. The outlook for a natural recovery to self-sustaining healthy chalkstreams looks bleak without physical restorative intervention. 

Hence, we work with others, including the Wild Troust Trust @WildTroutTrust, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust @HantsIWWildlifeWessex Chalkstream and Rivers Trust @WessexRivers and expert environmental contractors to restore rivers, and frequently do so using woody debris, including faggots. This winter we used 350 hazel faggots from woods near Stockbridge, in habitat enhancement projects in the Rivers Test and Itchen. Between 2008 and 2012 Aquascience  @InfoAquascience used over 2,500 locally-sourced faggots in restoring the Itchen Navigation (see  ItchenNavigationProject).

© Simon Cain.  Hazel coppice mattress “before”. River Avon

© Simon Cain.  Hazel coppice mattress “after” – a silt trap.

We’ve also recently worked with Cain Bio-Engineering @CainBio using 5,000 hazel faggots and 1,800 sweet chestnut posts to restore sections of tidal embankment in the Rother estuary SSSI (littoral sediment), which had been scoured by exceptional fluvial flows during winter 2013/14. Faggots were staked-out in a lattice, waffle formation and tied-down using specially manufactured hemp rope, to interrupt flows in the estuary and promote accretion of sediment (see CainBioEngineering).

Nationally, the Agency has used another 2,000+ hazel faggots (and more if one includes coppice willow and ash faggots) over the last year in river enhancement works. 

© Simon Cain.  Sweet chestnut coppice “before”.  Kent

© Simon Cain.  Sweet chestnut coppice “after”.  Kent

In this way, we are promoting the natural linkages between habitats and across living landscapes: in this case the flow of woody materials, nutrients and energy from our woodlands to our rivers/wetlands and estuaries. So, the next time you hear of the Environment Agency’s river restoration work, consider the benefits to hazel coppice woodlands, those who work in them, and woodland wildlife, as well as chalkstreams: think bluebells as well as brown trout. 

Tim Sykes
Environment Agency Fisheries, Biodiversity & Geomorphology Team Leader (Solent).
March 2015

Follow Tim on Twitter - @TimSykesEA

For more information :-

To volunteer your time to try coppicing, contact: @HantsIWWildlife, @TCVHampshire, @GreenHampshire, @DorsetWildlife, @SussexWildlife @sdnpa

To join a coppice group and obtain further information about coppicing contact: @ncfeduk, @WoodlandTrust, @Love_plants, WessexCoppiceGroup, HampshireCoppiceGroup, Sussex&SurreyCoppiceGroup, DorsetCoppiceGroup

To find out more about river restoration using woody debris contact: @WildTroutTrust, @WoodinRivers, @The_RRC

Learn more about our woodlands, their management and the associated crafts at these amazing family-fun events :-

Roydon Woods Woodfair and Local Produce Show. 7th June. The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the New Forest National Park Authority, is hosting the 8th annual Wood Fair and Local Produce Show at Roydon Woods Nature Reserve, Sandy Down, Setley near Brockenhurst. @NewForestNPA

Hampshire Woodlands Country Show. 11th & 12th July. Royal Victoria Country Park, Netley Abbey, Southampton, SO31 5GA @hantsconnect

Green Hampshire - Open Meet up - Wednesday 22 April 6.30pm in Southampton

Here at Green Hampshire, we want to inspire and motivate volunteers to get involved and take part in the wonderful environmental and conservation projects that are going on all over our beautiful county of Hampshire.

A lot of people want to participate and it has always been our intention to make it easier for volunteers to help with environmental projects. Where can volunteers go to find out what’s going on? That’s where we step in.

Green Hampshire has been a great success and we know that people have been using it as a resource of information so they can get involved. We've got lots of ideas for how to progress the project further including...
  •  Exploring the feasibility of setting up an online volunteering sign-up and membership platform. 
  •  Spreading the word about the activities and events Green Hampshire supports to more established companies across the county to gain further backing. 
  •  Distinguish potential collaborations with similar voluntary organisations and local colleges, universities and councils across Hampshire to grow the number of volunteers who can use our resources.
  • And many more exciting opportunities for us to register our interest in!
We list events from over one hundred environmental and conservation groups and organisations based in Hampshire. These range from groups of volunteers who look after a particular area to national and even international charities. The events we list cover a broad range of activities including vital conservation work, beach clean ups and litter picks; meetings to discuss environmental issues, film screenings and talks to learn more along with walks and guided tours are listed as well.

Our aim is to bring together a wide variety of different projects so that lots of people can be involved in looking after our beautiful county (and planet!)

We hope to hear from you whether you are an aspiring volunteer for your local community wanting to take action about the causes that you feel most passionate about or a group or organisation that is looking for more help with a project you’ve always had in mind, but never been able to take off the ground!

The best place to find out more information about us, inform of us of your interests in our movement or perhaps how we can form a collaboration to support one another would be at our up and coming ‘Meet Up’ scheduled for Earth Day - Wednesday 22nd April 2015 at Broadcasting House, 10 Havelock Road, Southampton SO14 7FY at 6.30pm. We will be discussing what we have achieved so far and where we want to be for the future!

In the meantime, why not have a look at our website You never know, there might be something going on that takes your interest and we might even be able to showcase some of these at our meet up on Wednesday 22nd April.

Twitter is also perfect for us and we have been delighted with the response our tweets get. Please follow us at @greenhampshire to keep up to date with all the latest voluntary opportunities and for ways you can make a real difference in our community in 2015! You can also contact us via email at

You can sign up for the meeting on Facebook at or simply turn up on the day.

We look forward to hearing from you or even better seeing you on the 22nd April 2015!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Green Hampshire - for volunteers, for the community

Green Hampshire
For Volunteers

We want to inspire and motivate volunteers to get involved and take part in the wonderful environmental and conservation projects that are going on all over our beautiful county of Hampshire.

A lot of people want to participate and we want to make it easier for volunteers to help with environmental projects. Where can volunteers go to find out what’s going on? That’s where we step in. 

Green Hampshire started after a group of local people chatted on twitter about setting up a website that featured lots of environmental events. That way, anyone who wants to take part can easily find out what is going on in their area and take action!

We list events from over one hundred environmental and conservation groups and organizations based in Hampshire.  These range from groups of volunteers who look after a particular area to national and even international charities. 

The events we list cover a broad range of activities including vital conservation work, beach clean ups and litter picks.  Meetings to discuss environmental issues, film screenings and talks to learn more along with walks and guided tours are listed as well.  Our aim is to bring together a wide variety of different projects so that lots of people can be involved in looking after our beautiful county (and planet!)

A number of groups in Hampshire are already in regular contact with us about listing their events on our website and we hope this will grow so that we can become a resource for organizations who are hoping to recruit volunteers. 

Our website address is  Please have a look – you never know, there might be something going on that takes your interest!

Twitter is perfect for us and we have been delighted with the response our tweets get.  Please follow us at @greenhampshire

You can also find us on Facebook as well. 

We hope to hear from you whether you are a volunteer wanting to take action about the causes that you feel passionate about or a group or organization that is looking for more help!

We would love to hear from you with your comments and ideas and to do so you can also use our email -

Green Hampshire 

For the Community

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Hound Corner Ecology Park, Hampshire

by Adam Manning, Green Hampshire

In a bid to get some fresh air after the Christmas festivities, my family paid a visit to a lovely spot called Hound Corner Ecology Park.  It's quite a wild area that was established with the help of local volunteers from derelict land some years ago.  I grew up in the area and can remember decades ago that it was open ground mostly but in subsequent years, nature has really taken hold. (Click on the photos for a closer look).

It is an area with abundant, vigorous plant life. We found lots to see, including ponds and some old steps which my children enjoyed climbing up.

According to Eastleigh Borough Council's website, the pond is home to smooth newts and the park includes an established wildflower meadow.  Migrating nightingales have been heard from deep within the scrub along with many more common birds which visit the area.

The park is easy to get to and there are entrances on Hound Road, Netley, Southampton, SO31 5FX. Parking is available on the slip road for the cemetery on Hound Road.

We loved our visit to the area and it made for a very pleasant venture outdoors during the festive period.