Old Hall Wood is an ancient semi-natural woodland at Bouth in the south of the Rusland Valley. It is owned by the Forestry Commission, and managed through a community woodland scheme under the Rusland Horizons HLF programme.
The long-established working relationship between people and nature is essential to the long-term sustainability of the tranquil, Rusland Horizons scheme area, but woodlands in the area are undermanaged. This means that their character is changing, resulting in even-aged stands of trees that will all reach maturity at the same time making the woodland vulnerable in future when the trees age and begin to die. Habitat structure is also declining, leading to loss of species. Sudden losses can occur through strong winds or disease, threatening the future viability of the woodland.
Old Hall Wood is owned by the Forestry Commission, but the organisation has involved the local community in the development of its Forest Design Plan and in the management of the woodland through a liaison group. The Community Woodland members of the Bouth Liaison Group have agreed with the Forestry Commission that a 'light touch' management scheme is appropriate. The principle aims are to:
- Restore woodland coppice
- Train volunteers in woodland management skills
- Organise volunteer days
- Provide employment for local contractors
- Clear and repair paths, walls and manage drainage.
- Harvest wood for fuel, when appropriate
- Install bird boxes for nesting
- Install dormouse boxes in the hope of finding the native dormouse. (see the Dreaming of Dormice project)
- Develop species lists (e.g. birds (see below), bats, butterflies)