Please ensure that when you visit Grafton Wood that you keep to public rights of way on the surrounding land. Many thanks.
An ancient woodland with coppice and large oaks
Jointly owned with Butterfly Conservation, Grafton has been at the heart of one of Worcestershire’s great conservation successes. The wood is the centre of the only colony of brown hairstreak butterflies in the Midlands. These elusive butterflies, on the wing in August and September, have been the subject of a long-term project to ensure their survival. By working with local landowners and encouraging appropriate maintenance of hedgerows, volunteers from both conservation charities have helped the butterflies to increase in range and in numbers.
Grafton Wood is an ancient semi-natural broad-leaved woodland and, until the 1950s was traditionally managed as coppice-with-standards that provided materials for products such as broom handles, pea sticks, hedge-laying, clothes pegs, spars for thatching and firewood. Our management today aims to replicate this tradition and involves widening the rides through the woodland, coppicing and creating glades. We also ensure that there are scrubby areas containing the young blackthorn bushes that are vital for brown hairstreaks to survive.
The majority of the canopy at Grafton is ash and oak although we also have a small-leaved lime coppice stool that we think must have originally started as one lime tree at least a thousand years ago. In many places there is a dense shrub layer of field maple, hawthorn and hazel. The two compartments of conifers that were planted in the 1960s have largely been removed in 2010.
It’s not just brown hairstreak butterflies that visitors to Grafton Wood should keep a look out for. The wood is also important for other woodland butterflies including silver-washed fritillaries and white admirals. After careful surveying of the habitat and flowering species in the wood pearl-bordered fritillaries were released into the woodland in 2011 in the hope that they would then naturally re-colonise the wood after a 30 year absence. Notable moths include drab looper, rosy footman, Devon carpet and waved black.
Many fungi have been recorded in the wood and it also supports a distinctive flora including herb-Paris, adder’s-tongue fern, violet helleborine, spurge laurel and bird’s-nest orchid. Birds including buzzard, goldcrest, treecreeper, lesser and great spotted woodpeckers are regularly seen in the wood and the adjacent meadows and orchards are important for green woodpeckers. Bechstein’s bats were recently discovered in the wood and the colony is thought to be the most northerly breeding roost in the UK.
Grafton Wood is one of 13 Flagship Reserves. We believe that a landscape-scale approach to wildlife conservation is essential. Wildlife needs space to adapt and move to cope with the consequences of climate change. Practically, this means that to deliver our biodiversity vision, we need to develop a coherent network of large areas linked by corridors that can provide benefits for people as well as for biodiversity.
Why is Grafton Wood a Flagship Reserve?
The site has been chosen as a flagship as it can be used to demonstrate the importance of good woodland management for conservation, best practice for deer control, veteran tree care in a woodland and management of Biodiversity Action Plan species within a living landscape area.
It is situated within Natural England’s Severn and Avon Vales Natural Area and Worcestershire Wildlife Trusts Forest of Feckenham Living Landscape and Bow Brook Project Area.