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Every Step Counts – Hatfield Forest

As spring slowly pushes through the recent showers, which seem to have started back in winter and not really let up. Although the evenings get lighter many will be waiting in anticipation of drier weather to start spending more time outdoors. That said the winter months and the weather they brought were of no consequence to the dog walkers, dedicated birdwatchers and ramblers to name a few who are about all year. Hatfield Forest, an ancient forest in Essex, managed by the National Trust is a popular destination at any time of year. The popularity of the forest in winter brings challenges for the team who are dedicated in managing the forest for all to enjoy whilst securing the historic integrity and biodiversity for the forest.

We highlighted a few months ago the conflict between the popularity of outdoor healthy lifestyles vs the wear and tear on parks, open spaces and this is also true for significant landscapes such Hatfield Forest. As Britain’s best example of a medieval Forest, the level of risk to this landscape is much more significant. The soils are heavy clay and renowned for being boggy underfoot in wet weather and so the ground becomes uneven; paths get wider as people walk over woodland edge plants whilst trying to avoid large muddy areas. I’m sure most of us who have visited in winter or a wet summer have had a ‘booty’ and been shin deep in a puddle or had their dog coated from paws to tail in mud, Its part of the fun I’m sure.

The continued popularity of the forest, increase in surrounding population, and therefore the increase use of the rides (grass paths) in these conditions are causing the soil to become compacted thereby reducing or completely destroying the quality of the soil structure required for trees, plants, grass to grow.

The national trust is experimenting with various ways to control, prevent and at least mitigate against damage to these historic rides. Drainage strategies, alternate ways to repair routes, reviewing walking routes with short to medium term closures to allow rides to recover are all being considered. The goal is to ensure the forest remains opens year round whilst preserving the historic site. The growth of the surrounding area north of the forest has put extra pressure on winter visitor numbers due to the forest being considered as local green space in developers plans. With the support of Natural England future developments are likely to required Environmental Impact assessments that will hopefully create more localised provisions for quality external spaces.

Further reading;

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatfield-forest/documents/every-step-counts-stakeholder-newsletter-1.pdf

Three Minute Interview…Gemma Tedaldi

Brief introduction, name, job title, location.

Gemma Tedaldi, I am a Graduate Landscape Architect in our Bristol Office and joined Liz Lake Associates in October 2017.

 

When you were at school what did you want to be and why?

I knew I wanted to be designing for a living but never really knew in what way. I have always been interested in exploring landscapes however so I guess it was built into me!

 

How did you get to be where you are today?

I initially went down the building design route and studied Architectural Technology & Design at UWE. Upon graduating I joined an architects practice as an Architectural Technologist, but deep down I knew I wanted to be more involved with the landscape side of the projects. So after 4 years in the industry I went back to university to study for my masters in Landscape Architecture. Now I am here!

 

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most, and why?

The most enjoyable part of my job is that no two projects are alike, so each project allows for varied skills to be used. This means each day at the office is never the same!

 

What is your proudest achievement?

My proudest achievement was seeing the first project I had ever worked finally completed with residents moving in. That feeling of walking into your project, that was a series of drawings on paper, but is now real and built, is just unforgettable.

 

What is the best advice you’ve been given in life?

If you try your hardest and fail, at least you’ve tried your hardest.

 

What is your next adventure / goal?

My next goal is to become a charted landscape architect. My next adventure is campervanning around Europe!

Gemma Tedaldi