Changes planned for public access at Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve

Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve in West Meon is a tranquil, ancient woodland, home to an impressive variety of rare plants including narrow-leaved helleborines, fungi and a healthy population of dormice.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are in the process of planning some changes to public access at Chappetts Copse. The Trust plan to establish a circular permissive footpath through the woodland, starting and finishing at the northern end of the site.

Trust staff regularly carry out visual tree inspections on all major routes through the woodland, to identify hazardous trees and then carry out work if failure of the tree is likely, such as branches snapping and falling out of the tree or the whole tree falling over.

At present, there are a number of preferred routes that have been established throughout the nature reserve which are becoming difficult for the Trust to monitor. This issue has been exacerbated by the infection of the woodland with the ash dieback fungus. Many of the ash trees have succumbed to the disease and are now standing deadwood, these trees are very brittle and are at high risk of failing.

For safety reasons, the Trust will establish a permissive footpath that does a loop of the site. The trees around this route will be regularly surveyed and kept safe. Access through the rest of the site will not be permitted. 

Initially, the Trust will close off all access to the woods except for the southern car park and main ride. Works will be carried out in these two areas in the coming weeks to remove any dead ash trees. In winter 2020, further work will be carried out to establish the rest of the permissive route once the bird nesting season is over.

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are committed to making nature accessible to people, and hope that in the long term this access change will improve the visitor experience at Chappetts Copse Nature Reserve. The Trust has not taken the decision to close parts of the woodland lightly and is doing so with public safety in mind.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

About Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust strives to create a better future for wildlife and wild places in our two counties. With the support of our 25,000 members we’re taking effective action to protect our natural heritage. We’re also part of a UK-wide partnership of 46 Wildlife Trusts; together we are the nation’s most active and influential nature conservation partnership protecting wildlife in every part of the UK. Discover wildlife on your doorstep with your Wildlife Trust by visiting www.hiwwt.org.uk