Pondtail Wood - Update

, 23 August 2017
Pondtail Wood - Update
Protests at the illegal felling of Pondtail Wood / Bob Foreman

By Phil Belden

Conservation Advisor to the Sussex Wildlife Trust

In 2016 we reported some bad news at Pondtail Wood, a couple of miles to the east of the Sussex Wildlife Trust's headquarters at Woods Mill and Henfield. This was the illegal felling of trees in the heart of the wood and dumping of rubble to create access roads, subsequently stopped by the South Downs National Park Authority and Forestry Commission. Earlier this year we gave the news that a new owner had stepped in to buy the wood, conscious that he had to take on the liability of restoring it ... we waited.

We can now report some good news. With the wet early season and bird-nesting out of the way, early work has started on repairing the damage.

The landowner is undertaking the agreed works, working with the South Downs National Park Authority, Forestry Commission and Natural England. Under the watchful eyes of an ecologist and enforcement officer, he is currently removing a large area of “waste” dumped in the wood, and he has also undertaken some safety works, removing dangerous and overhanging trees left in situ by the previous owner when he was abruptly stopped from proceeding with his woodland clearance activities.

All seems to be going in the right direction, but early days yet, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this. Our wish is to have, not just a repairing of the damage, but to see a full restoration, the coniferous plantation eventually replaced with the original deciduous woodland tree cover and the ground flora slowly re-emerging to its former glory. The early works are encouraging, so we are hoping for a more promising future for Pondtail Wood, for the landowner himself has stated his aim to “redeem the woodland to its former beauty and improve its biodiversity”.

Leave a comment


  • Ian Williams:

    Wonderful news!

    31 Aug 2017 10:08:54

  • Robert Shaw:

    Good, let’s hope the new landowner continues in the same vein as he started.

    31 Aug 2017 11:37:49

  • Derik Palmer:

    Sounds as though the new owner has made a promising start. Perhaps one or more of the wildlife organisations could build a good relationship with the owner by offering some help, either in volunteers helping to clear stuff or by surveying the wildlife present and offering advice on how to increase diversity.

    31 Aug 2017 12:06:01

  • Barbara Jeffers:

    Well done SWT for getting onto this problem before it got worse!

    31 Aug 2017 13:04:29

  • Sue Howard:

    Delighted to hear this… good luck and encouragement to the new owner.

    31 Aug 2017 13:38:09

  • Liz Cardon:

    Wonderful news – well done to the new owner ! Looking forward to seeing Pondtail Wood restored in the future.

    31 Aug 2017 14:39:02

  • Hazel Smith:

    Great ,the previous owner was a total disgrace.Well done to the protesters!

    31 Aug 2017 15:03:35

  • Sandra Ward:

    Good result for everyone.

    31 Aug 2017 15:32:38

  • Alicia Mottur:

    Great news! – I wish all landowners were like that…

    31 Aug 2017 15:50:37

  • Paul Diss:

    Glad things seem to be moving in the right direction, it is a pity the last owner made such a mess of the wood. Let us hope things can be put right with time!

    31 Aug 2017 16:06:06

  • Pat Winter:

    All credit to the new owner, who must be congratulated for helping to remedy the damage, and being a good neighbour to SWT. Thank you.

    31 Aug 2017 17:57:16

  • Mark Price:

    Fantastic news. Must be a good chap.

    31 Aug 2017 18:04:13

  • Sheila Chandler:


    Such wonderful news, look forward to hearing war

    Thank you
    Sheila Chandler

    31 Aug 2017 18:27:51

  • Roger Sharman:

    Great news, let’s give the new landowner all the support we can and stop all the adverse comments. Give him a pat on the back from me please.

    31 Aug 2017 19:06:55

  • Gill Taylor:

    Good to hear something positive happening at Pondtail Wood at long last – we should applaud this conscientious land owner and support his efforts in undertaking this mammoth task.

    01 Sep 2017 00:52:39

  • Dear SWT, I also bought a wood that had fly tipping on it and it took 2 1/2 years to go through the rubble, loft insulation and asbestos by hand so the crested newts were not harmed. This became my 2012 pond that had 100+ newts recorded this summer. So when things appear to be going slowly just imagine what an amazing difference you will be making to the wildlife that is and will call Pond wood home. Well done to all concerned for stamping on this type of practice.

    01 Sep 2017 12:33:40

  • Leanne Roberts:

    As a new member this was the first I had heard of this issue. So glad to hear that the new owner is making steps in the right direction.
    Derik Palmer makes a very good point also about supporting new landowners and building relationships with wildlife organisations.

    04 Sep 2017 08:44:33