Sherrardspark Wood Wardens Celebrate 50 Years
By Robert Gill
Sherrardspark Wood which is just north of the Welwyn Garden City town centre has a long history. With the coming of the new garden city in 1920, pressures began to grow with plans to encroach into the wood with housing. The Welwyn Garden City Company which was building the town presented schemes for approval which if agreed would have seen the loss of this historic wood and public amenity. The local people were up in arms about the prospect of losing their wood resulting in a number of ‘Save the Woods’ campaigns during the 1930s. The people won, plans were turned down and the wood continues to provide pleasure to this day, now having a status of Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
In 1966, the Wood Wardens Society was formed with a simple purpose of:
‘To assist the Welwyn Garden City Corporation, a number of keen and interested local residents have voluntarily undertaken to act as wardens of the woods and they carry the Corporation’s authority to prevent abuse.’
Their duties were:
To prevent people:
- Dropping litter
- Damaging trees
- Obstructing paths and rides
- Exercising animals in a way to make it a nuisance to other people
- Removing or the destruction of any wild animals, birds or their eggs
- To prohibit the discharge of firearms.
In 1996 following public outcry over tree felling by outside contractors, the wardens offered to become more proactive in conservation work within the wood, an offer the Welwyn Garden City Borough Council accepted.
Today, there are around 50 wardens working to restore and maintain the historic nature of the wood following a Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s 25 year management plan agreed with Natural England and the Forestry Commission. These 50 wardens not only work together but have a popular social life with walks, BBQs, talks, picnics etc.
Thanks to them, Sherrardspark Wood is maintained as something special and an important local amenity.
Follow this link to Sherrardspark Wood Wardens web site for more information.