As part of the long-term plan to restore Whippendell Wood back to its true and natural historic state, Watford Borough Council (WBC) will be removing unauthorised jumps and tracks from the woodland and will also be working in partnership with Bike Park Chilterns to find a new location to provide mountain bike trails.
The five-year project – known as the ‘Ancient Woodland Restoration Project’ – aims to protect Whippendell Wood, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in order to preserve the ‘favourable condition’ status.
Therefore, from October 6, the unauthorised jumps and trails created by mountain bikers over the years will be removed, as they have compacted and eroded the soil and tree roots, damaging the woodland floor.
To continue to keep providing cycling and wheeled sport facilities to local residents, such as the state-of-the-art facilities at Oxhey Activity Park, the council are working alongside the mountain biking community to find an alternative area outside of the protected woodland to construct trails and jumps as part of a ‘bike park’.
The dedicated area for jumps and trails will also protect the routes regularly used by walkers and horse riders, which sometimes overlapped with each other.
Elected Mayor of Watford Peter Taylor said: “Whippendell Wood is a real gem which is enjoyed by thousands of people each year. However, there is work to be done to make it a healthy woodland to ensure we protect this Site of Special Scientific Interest.
“Woodlands need to be managed sensitively to ensure they can be enjoyed by future generations and this means working with Bike Park Chilterns to relocate their mountain biking tracks from this protected woodland.
“The ‘Restoration Project’ and repositioning of the trails will help us to keep the woods healthy for many more years, as well as providing some great new biking facilities.”
The removal will also specifically help control the spread of ash decline – Chalara, and reduce infected material being carried on bike wheels and spreading throughout the woodland.
Once completed, the restoration project will create a mosaic of different habitats, tree species with a range of ages to support as much wildlife as possible and to build resilience to pest and disease and a changing climate.
This is being achieved through a series of measures that will improve the structural and species diversity of the woodland to support more wildlife, improve access, create better links with the park and wider landscape. You can find out more at www.watford.gov.uk/sustainablewatford.