Since the New Year began, our Grounds team has been out in force to make the most of our incredible site, and transform the woodlands into a space to be proud of.
Mr Matt Wharton, Head of the Grounds Department here at Blue Coat, obtained a grant from Professor Ali Driver, Director of Rewilding Britain and friend of the school. The grant was awarded for habitat enhancements in Sonning, for which Blue Coat received £16,500 for pond restoration and wildflower meadow creation at the nature reserve across the road from the School, and woodland thinning and planting in the woods at Holme Park.
Through the grant funding, Matt and the Grounds Team commissioned Chris Leyland, the School’s arboriculture consultant to create a woodland management plan, with the vison to enhance the landscape and ecosystem’s qualities, as well as its educational and recreational potential; thereby improving the wood’s natural resilience to climate change, pest and disease.
Further to this, the 2019 Forestry Commission approved the 10-year felling licence for the RBCS woodland management plan. Having done so, the first phase of felling and restocking within the woodlands has already taken place, with 0.66 hectares having been cleared of invasive cherry laurel. The team also selectively felled further trees to enhance light levels in the woodlands, providing better conditions for those recently planted trees. In total, over 1,100 trees and shrubs have been replanted, of which a high proportion are beech and hornbeam, to preserve the historic nature of the woods.
The School has also been able to set aside costs for woodland development, in order to continue the great work already achieved. Well done to the Grounds Team (Matt Wharton, Seb Janas, Harry Pearson, Alex Littleboy, Elliot Whitehouse and Jay Taylor), Mr Rob Cook and Capt Stuart John for their incredibly hard work in the recent months! Thank you also to Thames Valley Tree Care for clearing the area of woodlands, which took around a week and to Jack and Giavanna, who specialise in climbing and abseiled down steep areas of the bank to replant.