About us Wildlife conservation Wildlife conservation The landscape here at Marks Hall Estate provides a rich diversity of habitats for a huge variety of species. This includes hundreds of acres of woodland, much of which is designated Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland. We care for this woodland using traditional management techniques including coppicing, a way of harvesting wood that stimulates new growth. This felling allows light to flood onto the forest floor, stimulating the dormant seeds and bulbs and providing excellent conditions for wild flowers. It also provides food and habitat for wildlife, and can prolong the life of trees. The benefits to wildlife have already been proven. Simon Leatherdale, formerly Forest Officer for the Forestry Commission, regularly leads bat walks at Marks Hall Estate; Woodland is important for bat species because they have evolved to benefit from the food supply, roosting and hibernating opportunities that it provides. The bats at Marks Hall Estate have been encouraged over the last 30 years by a positive approach to woodland management. In addition the old Second World War air-raid shelters have been adapted to accommodate bats during their hibernation period. The Marks Hall hibernation complex is now the second best site in the UK for hibernating barbastelle bats, the best site by far for brown long-eared bats, and globally important for natterers bats. Marks Hall Estate has also had great success in support of butterfly populations. The silver-washed fritillary (argynnis paphia) and purple emperor (apatura iris) butterflies have been successfully re-introduced and self-sustaining populations are now thriving on the Estate. As Professor Ted Benson, President of the Colchester Natural History Society points out; The woodland at Marks Hall Estate has been very sympathetically managed for these species. They need open, flowery habitats inside the woods and around their edges. Woodland management caters for all these needs by ensuring a connected mosaic of different habitats in and around the wood. You can help to support the wildlife conservation programmes at Marks Hall Estate by visiting the gardens, Arboretum and woodlands. If you have an open fire or woodburner at home, you can source your sustainably produced firewood from Marks Hall Estate too. Not only is it a high quality and seasoned product, you are ensuring the continuation of these ancient and traditional techniques, which are so beneficial for wildlife.