VITAL work to save veteran trees at a Droitwich Spa nature reserve is due to start in early December.

The work mainly involves creating ‘halos’ around veteran trees at Piper’s Hill and Dodderhill Common nature reserve, owned by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and known locally as Hanbury Woods. The work gives the ancient trees increased access to sunlight and nutrients in the soil.

James Hitchcock, conservation officer for the trust, said: “These magnificent trees are an essential feature of the British landscape – and particularly so at Piper’s Hill and Dodderhill Common, which is a regionally important site for them.

“The age at which a tree becomes veteran is dependent on the species but some of the trees on this nature reserve are around 400 years old. This great age makes them crucial for lifecycles of numerous insects and many species of fungus, as well as for birds such as tawny owls and bats that utilise the cracks and crevices.

“We’ve been undertaking work on and around the trees for a number of years now and we’ve managed to prevent a lot of the most heavily shaded trees from dying. We have a real responsibility for ensuring the survival of these woodland veterans.”

The trees at Piper’s Hill and Dodderhill Commons are largely oak, sweet chestnut and beech. They originated in a wood pasture environment where they had plenty of open space in which to grow – evidenced by the spreading rather than upward growing branches.

With funding from Biffa Award, the trust is able to fell selected trees surrounding the veterans to help replicate elements of the wood pasture environment and allow the current veterans to survive whilst helping to ensure the growth of veteran trees for the future.

Biffa Award is a multi-million pound fund that helps to build communities and transform lives through awarding grants to environmental projects across the UK. The fund administers money donated by Biffa Group Ltd, a leading integrated waste management business.

Mr Hitchcock added: “The continuing work has been really successful with many more sightings of butterflies and bees using the open spaces.

“Contractors will be on site for five days using low impact machinery. Brash will be chipped and removed as woodchips and the timber will be sold as firewood; all this helps to fund our conservation work.

Anyone who wishes to get involved with ongoing management on the nature reserve can join the monthly Sunday volunteer work party. Anyone who is interested in finding out more should contact the trust on 01905 754919 or email

For more information about the nature reserve or the work of Worcestershire Wildlife Trust visit