October 2013 | Nate Pedersen

Rare Book Helps Restore Forest


A rare book is helping a forest restoration project in Oxfordshire understand how the forest changed throughout time. The Wychwood Project, centered in Oxford, seeks to conserve and restore the Wychwood Forest, which in earlier times covered most of west Oxfordshire. Aiding in this endeavor is the book Cornbury and the Forest of Wychwood, privately printed in 1910 and estimated to be worth about £500 today. The book was donated to the Wychwood Project by a supporter.

The project managers for the Wychwood Project have found the book's guidance on the former boundaries of the Wychwood Forest to be particularly helpful as they seek key areas to reforest. The book contains a wealth of information on the extent of the Forest in the 19th century as it was in the process of being cleared for farming. The book also investigates a further 1,000 years of Wychwood history, tracing its development back to the Domesday period.

Using the book as a guide post, the Wychwood Project recently planted 20,000 new trees in an area near Witney called Foxburrow Wood. The area was part of the former Wychwood Forest and was depicted in one of the book's maps.

As the Wychwood Project continues, the rare book will continue to play an instrumental role in reforestation planning.