Havant Thicket Reservoir: Portsmouth Water and Forestry England work to remove trees to improve woodland habitat

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Work has begun to remove trees from the Havant Thicket woodlands as part of a project to create a reservoir.

A contractor is removing the non-native and dying Norway Spruce, and some suppressed Scots Pine.

This will increase light levels in and around ponds and help improve oxygen conditions – all of which will benefit wildlife, says Portsmouth Water. The contractor will also be removing some of the acidic needle litter layer to provide additional benefits for the ponds.

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Havant Thicket, where work is taking place to create a new reservoir.
Picture: Emily TurnerHavant Thicket, where work is taking place to create a new reservoir.
Picture: Emily Turner
Havant Thicket, where work is taking place to create a new reservoir. Picture: Emily Turner

Forestry England project manager Marcus Stroud said: ‘This work will improve the quality of the woodland and is likely to prevent the spread of a serious pest threatening spruce trees in the south east of England. The large eight-toothed European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus) kills spruce trees by nesting and feeding under their bark. Once dead, the trees pose a safety risk to the public.

‘While the beetle is not currently found in Havant Thicket, removing these spruce trees will help prevent the spread of infection across the south east.’

Portsmouth Water CEO Bob Taylor added: ‘Havant Thicket Reservoir is an environmentally-led project that will deliver a significant environmental net gain for the area.

‘These works are part of our much larger environmental programme which will involve planting and improving more than 200 hectares of woodland and wood pasture locally,

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What Havant Thicket reservoir could look like.What Havant Thicket reservoir could look like.
What Havant Thicket reservoir could look like.

including planting more than 6,000 trees on the edge of the reservoir site, an 80 hectare rewilding project and carrying out extensive improvements to established woodland in

nearby Southleigh Forest and Havant Thicket.

‘We look forward to sharing further updates on these projects as the reservoir progresses.’

The work, which began yesterday is due to last up to three weeks but this estimate is weather dependent. Some tracks will be temporarily closed while certain sections of trees are removed and visitors to Havant thicket are advised to follow signage during this time.

The Havant Thicket Reservoir project will create an 8.7bn litre winter storage reservoir which stretches 160 hectares across Leigh Park in Havant to Rowlands Castle in east Hampshire. This will address a water surplus which hits the south east each winter during periods of high rainfall, and therefore help to counteract any drought in the summer.

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