Essex: Hatfield Forest gets a tidy up

AN AMBITIOUS project at Hatfield Forest has restored an area of marsh not seen since before the Second World War.

Warden Adam Maher spearheaded the restoration of three hectares of grassland and reeds which were previously covered in dense scrub due to a lack of grazing. The area is home to plants and wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else in Essex.

Mr Maher said: “Of all our incredible habitats here, the marsh is one of the most species rich habitats and has been most under threat.

“Over 90 species of plants live in the area at the top of the lake, as well as some rare birds like the Water Rail, which has been rapidly declining.

“The reeds and grassland were disappearing as thorn bushes took over, so contractors cleared trees and shrubs, ensuring we don’t lose this rare fragment of habitat and all the species associated with it.

“It’s been a big project, but at this time of year when the orchids are flowering and the birds nesting it’s so easy to see why it’s worth it.”

The work has reinstated an historic view towards the lake that has not been seen for over 100 years.

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But it does not stop now. “It’s really important to work out exactly what species are here so we can look after them in the right way,” said Mr Maher. “Over the summer we are carrying out surveys on birds, reptiles, moths, plants, dragonflies and other invertebrates to get the best information we can.”

The marsh is open all year round, except when grazed by sheep. Visitors are asked to keep to the fence line path to protect this fragile habitat.

Pics - Before the clearance

After the clearance