Triumph after tragedy! You may remember about 5 years ago a new owner of Pondtail Wood in Albourne created a local controversy. Without appropriate permission, he created a new access track from the highway and clear felled a large area of this ancient woodland, dumping a large amount of building material in the cleared area. What an eyesore it was! Residents of Hurstpierpoint, Sayers Common, Poynings and Albourne, amongst others, were all closely involved in creating the action group that saved Pondtail Wood.
It proved very difficult for various technical reasons to put a stop to the illegal activity, but eventually the South Downs National Park Authority were successful through their enforcement team. The wood is in a “bubble” pushing out from the National Park and is some way from the Downs. Together with the Shaves Wood to the north, it hosts some rare butterfly species.
The wood was put up for sale by auction but needed urgent and very expensive remedial work. After 700 tons of illegally dumped waste were cleared, recovery commenced, which included planting 2000 new trees. Pondtail Wood is now in the safe hands of a local family who regard themselves as custodians of this wonderful part of the South Downs National Park. They have overseen the replanting and regrowth of the five acres, lost to illegal felling and the woodland has begun to recover beautifully.
Despite the terrible damage caused by the trucks and excavators, bluebells have started once again to carpet the woodland and vast quantities of life have returned to the ponds and streams that had once been filled with tree stumps and rubble.
As well as visiting Canada Geese, a family of ducks now occupy the pond island and traditional native bred pigs nuzzle through the woodland floor. It has been a wonderful example of how with a little help, Mother Nature can fix even the worst damage caused by humans.
Works continue at the site and there are plans to install a borehole to help water the trees through the summer months (not needed this year!)
It is hoped in future to open the woods in future to anyone wanting to learn more about woodland craft and forest management. The wood is on the B2117 Muddles Wood road in Albourne more or less opposite Singing Hills Golf Club, before you reach Poynings Crossways coming from the east.