If you are walking along the upper path in Jack Wood (between Rose Cottage and the Jack Wood rose garden) you will notice some new holly barriers (or dead-hedging) blocking some of the footpaths which lead off from the main path. These have been installed by the Shooters Hill Woods Working Party, to try and discourage people from wandering off of the main paths in Jack Wood.
Why do we do this?
It is important to remember that the Oxleas Woodlands are designated as a Nature Reserve. It is primarily an area reserved for plants and wildlife, who need undisturbed habitat in which to live and reproduce. Unfortunately one of the greatest threats to wildlife habitat comes from human disturbance.
This is particularly a problem for a sub-urban woodland like Oxleas, where housing, and roads surround it on every side, and where human access to the woods is uncontrolled.
Research has shown that the impact of disturbance from human activity has a negative effect on wildlife that can extends 50 metres into the habitat either from the woodland edge or from any footpath through the woods.
It is easy to see, therefore, that as more and more footpaths are cut into the woodland, the area of viable habitat for wildlife shrinks. This is a process known as fragmentation.
Research by Littlemore and Barker (The ecological response of forest ground flora and soils to experimental trampling in British Urban woodlands. 2003), found that oak woodlands are particularly susceptible to ‘trampling’ by walkers, and the effect is made even more pronounced by dogs, as they rarely keep to the footpaths. The result is a gradual diminution of, for example, bird species, and the loss of woodland plants.
So, in order to try and encourage people to keep to the main paths and give our wildlife a chance, several of the footpaths have been blocked. We really want people to be able to enjoy the woodlands and immerse themselves in its wonderful environment. But we also want it to survive into the future.
So please help us and the woods by trying to keep to the main footpaths as much as possible.