Bluebells at risk at Heartwood Forest, Sandridge

Bluebells before and after trampling

Bluebells before and after trampling - Credit: Archant

Trampled bluebells are causing as much of a problem at a newly-established local forest as they are to the National Trust.

Bluebells before and after trampling

Bluebells before and after trampling - Credit: Archant

To that end The Woodland Trust is asking local people to care for the bluebell carpets at Heartwood Forest in Sandridge following several years of trampling by people wandering off woodland paths.

As a result of being continuously trodden down in previous years, fewer bluebells are coming into bloom at Heartwood and The Woodland Trust estimates that a hectare of the flowers - a space the size of Wembley football pitch - has been damaged.

So this year the charity is highlighting the issue to raise awareness and encourage visitors to keep to the paths and admire the displays from a distance.

It will be hosting events from 10am to 3pm this Sunday, April 24, to raise awareness of bluebells, giving people the chance to learn more about the flower and also show their support for protecting them.

The events are open to under 16s accompanied by an adult and dogs are welcome on leads.

Regular visitors are still welcome to the site, and new fencing (funded by part of a £68,500 grant awarded by The Veolia Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund) and signage have been created to help indicate where it is best to walk in the wood.

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Louise Neicho, site manager for the Woodland Trust, said: “The traditional English bluebell is an iconic symbol that tells us spring has finally arrived. They transform our beloved woods with carpets of striking colour, and many flock to our woods to see them in bloom.

“However, we have noticed that these delicate flowers are being trampled by some visitors, and many of them are unable to bloom again - meaning we run the risk of losing these stunning displays. We hope that by raising awareness of this issue people will be more careful when visiting our woods and stick to paths when admiring them.”

Heartwood is not the only area where there is concern about trampled bluebells. The National Trust is introducing charges at Dockey Wood in Ashridge near Berkhamsted which is also a popular location for bluebell watchers between mid April and late May.

The Ashridge bluebells have also suffered from tramping and compacted ground which has resulted in a decline in flowering.

The National Trust is charging visitors to enter Dockey Wood over the May Bank Holiday and the following weekend to help contribute to costs and spread visitors more evenly across the site in a bid to reduce the amount of damage.