Nature Reserve At Site Of “Secret Forest”.
RSPB creates new nature reserve at site of “secret forest”.
A NEW nature reserve has been created in the New Forest after the RSPB purchased an area of “secret forest” once inaccessible to the public.
The land, which is home to threatened birds including wood warblers and hawfinches, is known as Franchises Lodge and is situated to the north of the New Forest National Park.
Spanning nearly 1,000 acres, the new reserve is a woodland of deciduous and conifer trees and will be a bridge between two other key natural areas in the national park, the RSPB said.
As well as a wide range of birds, many species of invertebrates and plant life, as well as an important collection of lichens, inhabit Franchises Lodge.
Its acquisition is the result of the land being given to the nation in a tax settlement by the previous owner, boosted by support from the New Forest National Park Authority and the Friends of the New Forest.
The reserve will be managed to maintain existing broadleaf woodland, enhancing areas of wood pasture and recreating open heath, the RSPB said.
Initial surveys reveal it is home to birds such as the wood warbler, hawfinch, spotted flycatcher, firecrest and redstart, as well as plants, beetles and butterflies.
Nick Bruce-White, RSPB regional director in South West England, said there was still much to be discovered at the site.
“We think it might hold some real wildlife treasures.
“This is hugely exciting. While we know the sorts of things to be expected, and we know its potential, until we start exploring the site we don’t know for sure just what the site contains.”
He added: “We have to understand much more about its nature and ecology and consider the views of local communities before making any decisions about access beyond the existing rights of way.”
RSPB chief executive Mike Clarke said the acquisition of the land would allow it to work with other organisations to deliver “landscape-scale” conservation. A public appeal will be launched in May.
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