With its long history as a hornbeam coppice with oak standards, the conservation of Highgate Wood's distinctive character is a key part of our woodland management. Traditionally, hornbeam were coppiced, meaning they were cut down regularly to provide smaller timber for fuel, while surrounding oaks were left to grow into mature trees for timber for building. In recent years the City of London has re-introduced traditional management with one acre 'conservation areas' being coppiced every five years, to encourage regeneration of this traditional mix, as well as other native species, and to encourage tree age diversity. Veteran trees are also supported and a diversity of habitats and species are created and maintained.
The rich diversity of wildlife in the Wood has been well researched and documented over the years. To date over 900 invertebrate species, 338 moth species, 353 fungi species, 70 bird species and seven bat species have been recorded. Many of these species are reliant on very particular niches found only in ancient woodlands, with their well-developed and complex ecosystems.
Biodiversity for the future
Keeping the cycles of growth and decay in a healthy balance, in continuity, is a long-term aim of our conservation management in the Wood. The challenge is to maintain this balance in response to the modern pressures of increased visitor numbers and climate change. Fortunately, this ancient woodland has developed robust ecosystems and these will continue to enlighten and educate us and help us to provide the right conditions to support a rich biodiversity in the future.