I recently came across a bird’s eye view of the farmland at College Farm in Southern Oxfordshire, before I had designed and started the planting of two new woodlands: Paradise Wood and Neptune Wood.
The aerial photograph, taken in 1991, clearly shows that College Farm was an arable desert. Wheat was grown right up to the edges of the ditches, crowding the few hedgerow trees that narrowly escaped the plough every autumn. Look at the main dark green area in the 1991 image (left), and compare it with the 2009 image (right). Click on the them to see as larger images.
The dramatic landscape changes that have occurred 18 years later are obvious to see. Some 60,000 trees now grow where wheat once dominated. When you explore the new woodlands on foot, where wildlife was largely absent, tawny owl and orchid, woodcock and speckled wood butterfly, compete for your attention among the trees in Paradise Wood. The local community has planted thousands of trees and enjoy free access through the smaller Neptune woodland (notice the ‘figure of 8’ path in the 2009 image).
Take a look at the growing woodlands in the most recent Google Maps image here. It is possible to zoom right in and to see the individual trees and forest rides. Look closely and you might even see me walking through the trees with my dog!