Creating a green legacy
We have continued with our ten-year landscape restoration and replanting programme at Windsor, and undertaken wider commemorative planting to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The replanting scheme at Windsor
The Windsor Estate has the largest collection of ancient and veteran oak and beech trees in Northern Europe. It represents a very rare, but declining, habitat for over 2,000 species of beetle and 1,000 species of fungi – 250 of which are very rare and some even exclusive to Windsor. The park and forest also support many breeding birds, visiting winter birds and predatory birds. In addition, forestry plays an important role in reducing local flood risk for nearby towns and villages by retaining water, and the Estate’s ecosystem also helps improve water and air quality.
Due to the impact of disease, storms and insufficient planting, the Estate has lost between 10,000 and 15,000 parkland and open grown trees over the last 140 years. Our plan is to replant these trees into the landscape at Windsor that existed before World War Two, by undertaking a 10-year landscape restoration and replanting scheme. This will also increase and accelerate the planting of a number of new hedgerows, hedgerow trees and in-field trees as the farming operations at Windsor move to an organic system. It will restore parkland and wood pasture, and also all of Windsor’s derelict ponds and watercourses. It will also contribute to our wider net zero 2030 commitment and showcase environmental best practice.
We started this ambitious programme three years ago to replant the various trees, shrubs and hedgerows that have been lost from the landscape. Detailed analysis of original OS maps from 1840 onwards overlaid onto modern aerial imagery has enabled our team of conservation advisors to piece together areas of missing trees, copses and hedgerows. We are undertaking the replanting over a ten year period to ensure that the ancient and veteran trees of the future are well established, alongside a variety of species appropriate to the landscape and to hopefully withstand pests, diseases and the pressures of climate change over the next century and beyond.
2022/23 has been particularly challenging with a significant number of young trees lost because of the summer drought. The choice of drought-resilient tree species will be important in the future.
Amongst the significant tree, hedgerow and woodland planting across the estate, a number of the new plantings contributed to The Queen’s Green Canopy – as part of a nationwide initiative two new avenues of 70 trees were planted to mark the Platinum Jubilee. Work in the last year has also seen the continuation of a gene bank parkland oak planting project in the Great Park and the start of the major tree planting project to enhance the polo ground at Smith’s Lawn.
Our conservation and habitat creation initiatives include planting native and wildlife-friendly shrubs and trees, creating new ponds and wetlands in Swinley Forest, managing invasive species and dead wood habitats in our ancient woodlands and sustainable soil management through careful grazing and mowing programmes. We have a programme of wildlife monitoring and surveying including birds, butterflies, bats and insects, and these surveys help to inform our habitat condition and the action we need to take to help with nature recovery.