British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

British Holiday and Home Parks Association, David Bellamy Conservations Awards

Sandy Balls

Sandy Balls - Leading the Way in Woodland Management

Boosting biodiversity is what the David Bellamy Conservation Awards are all about and one park that has invested heavily in doing just that is Sandy Balls Holiday Centre, a park nestled in 120 acres of glorious woods and parkland in the New Forest.

The park is investing approximately £30,000 per year to turn a former plantation into a wooded valley full of native trees. The park’s team has worked closely with the Forestry Commission to ensure that this restoration project has the maximum benefit for wildlife, however, as the work involves significant felling, they have had to absorb some inevitable flack from those who dislike tree felling whatever the reason.

"Many guests were used to seeing a thick forest of pines and they thought that this was healthy, but it was pretty dead from an ecological point of view," says Brett Turner, the park’s Operations Director, who explains that the project has involved taking out a lot of non-native trees and most of the rhododendrons which had taken over the forest. To get guests ‘onside’, the park has conducted guided walks to explain what is being done and why.

After just two years, the project is now paying off. "We have started to see native trees such as oaks, beech and birch all coming through and there are also patches of heath land plants," says Brett. "Butterflies are now coming back into the woodland, as is the bird life." Future plans for the regeneration project, include more replanting with native trees grown by the park in nurseries in surrounding fields.

This project shows the importance of well-planned management and the need for a long-term view and strategy when it comes to wildlife conservation.

Sandy Balls