With plans to redevelop the graduate accommodation at Court Place Gardens in Iffley progressing fast, the University is taking the opportunity to improve the woodland between the site and the river, with the aim of creating a more diverse and wildlife-friendly environment that local people can enjoy.
The University owns the land, and has agreed a 10-year Woodland Management Plan with the Forestry Commission. This is intended to increase the range of plants and animals found in the woodland and to improve its structure. For instance, workers will remove low-quality trees to give the better specimens more room to grow and let more light reach the ground, encouraging natural regeneration of young trees.
They will coppice areas of the woodland where this is appropriate and create small clearings where light-loving species can thrive. They will also remove any trees believed to pose a potential risk to passers-by, leaving the wood created in piles to provide wildlife habitat, and add new species that enjoy riverside conditions, such as alder and oak. The work will start in mid-September and is expected to last 3-4 weeks.
The University plans to create a permissive path through the area - this means the public will be allowed to walk there, although there is no legal right of way.
Great care will be taken to minimise disturbance to wildlife and to the site itself - the work is being done in the autumn so that conditions underfoot are still relatively firm and dry, and because the bird nesting season has now finished but bats are not yet hibernating.
The work will be managed on the University's behalf by Oakbank Game and Conservation.