Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


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7 January 2014

Highbury Woods National Nature Reserve (SSSI)

Grid Ref SO540086



This was our first visit to these woods which are managed by Natural England and helped by Gloucester Wildlife Trust. Our task was to remove ancient deer fencing.

Highbury Wood lies on the eastern bank of the River Wye and is a prime example of the very rich and diverse woodland for which the Wye Valley is internationally important. The site is noted for its variety of woodland types, reflecting the wide range of soils, aspect and drainage on the site.

The wood, which covers 46 hectares, was bought by English Nature in 1986. It is managed to conserve its features and wildlife. The wood has survived through to the present day due to its inaccessibility and steep slopes, making clearance for agriculture impractical. The ancient woodland, therefore, has unbroken links with the ‘wildwood’, which colonised the valley slopes after the last Ice Age, retaining a great variety of plant and animal species.

The oldest sign of human influence at Highbury is the prominent section of Offa’s Dyke which runs the length of the wood. It is part of an earthwork constructed around 780AD, stretching from Chepstow to Prestatyn, which once marked the western boundary of the Mercian empire. Today, a National Trail follows the route of the Dyke.







The remaining deer fence is just visible here. The task was quite hard as a lot of the deer fencing was tangled up in the trees. The deer fencing was erected on the 1980's to protect a newly coppiced area which has now matured and will probably be re-coppiced in the near future.





The team are posing next to the GWT and Natural England trucks. Due to the lack of parking in the woods we had to park down by the river at Redbrook and be transported to the site in the trucks.

During the day we saw:

A peregrine flying

A heron flying

Buzzards flying





This is the view from the end of the woods down to the bridge over the River Wye at Redbrook. The gate at the bottom of the field is on the Offa's Dyke route.

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