National Highways celebrates thriving ancient woodland 20 years since it was replanted

Cossington Fields 20 years on from successful translocation

One of the most ambitious translocation projects to save ancient woodland, near to a motorway widening scheme in Kent, has recently celebrated 20 years since it was successfully replanted, National Highways announced.

The M2 scheme was built near to Frith wood, the site of an ancient woodland on the eastern slope of the North Downs, south of the Medway towns. A new site, chosen in cooperation with Natural England, Kent County Council and Kent Wildlife Trust, ran through an area adjacent to this ancient woodland at Cossington Fields, a 5-hectare site which was once arable land.

During the widening of the A2/M2 between Cobham and junction 4 over 20 years ago, National Highways lifted and moved the woodland next to the road to a new location at the nearby Tunbury Woods and Cossington Fields, and along with top soil from eight woodland donors site, and additional flora and fauna, creating Cossington Fields Wood.

The translocation and planting process was completed in 2003 and connected three existing pockets of fragmented woodland together. Thanks to ongoing maintenance and care from National Highways environmental team it has been flourishing ever since.

Martin Ward, National Highways, Environment team manager, South East said: “Covering around the same area as seven football pitches, Cossington Fields Wood is a great example of how we can work along-side nature when making essential improvements to our road network.

“We’ve seen the woodland establish and flourish over the last 20 years, with vigorous growth of trees, shrubs and other woodland plants such as bluebells, wood anemone and yellow archangel. Wildlife has also made the woodland its home from invertebrates on the ground to bats in the sky. We’re really proud of the legacy we’ve created here in Kent. And that’s all down to our dedicated teams at National Highways and supply chain partners that it’s been flourishing ever since.”

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