Paythorne Farm Woodland Creation scheme totals 11.3 hectares with the proposed planting of 15,200 mixed native broadleaf trees. The site sits within the South Downs National Park, near Henfield in rural West Sussex. The third-generation mixed cattle and sheep farm is seeking to diversify their landuse, whilst giving back to nature and reducing their carbon footprint.


The new woodland will incorporate 17 different native trees species. All of which provide different wildlife benefits. Seven of the carefully chosen species will sequester carbon at a rapid rate. Once the trees are established and some reach maturity, regular, selective removal of individual trees for timber production, which have locked in their carbon, will simulate the natural cycle within a woodland. This natural cycle, simulates the creation of open pockets within the woodland that will encourage the natural regeneration of the woodland, diversifying the woodland structure as new saplings establish and will also allow the surrounding trees to grow quicker and larger, locking up even more carbon.


The conversion of low-production farmland to woodland will not only mean the woodland will be locking away carbon into the timber and soils but the transformation will instantly reduce their carbon footprint as land will be taken out of short-rotation crops, which otherwise releases soil carbon and emits carbon in the use of chemicals and machinery.


The site’s current land-use is a mix of arable (6.2ha) and improved grazing pasture (3.3ha), both lack in species diversity but have some features that will be assimilated into the planting scheme. The already establlished hedgerows will be allowed to grow out and expand, the wildflowers of the grassland and arable margins will be encouraged to colonise new glades and rides. The long-term woodland management will maintain these open habitats within the woodland to enhance the site’s overall biodiversity.


The land conversion instantly reduces the chemical input and mechanical activity on the site which can impact local water quality as chemicals can leach into watercourses and machines compact the soil which can cause run-off. Trees will intercept rainfall and will help retain water on the site, increasing the time is may take rainfall to enter local water courses and reduce the chances of flooding. The roots will also help rainwater infiltrate into the ground, reducing run-off, and will help draw up water in periods of drought.


There is a public right of way currently running through the site. This footpath has been incorporated into the scheme design and the ongoing maintenance of rides will allow visitors to explore the connecting permissive paths around the compartments, and watch the woodland grow.