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Abbots Ripton Farming Company (ARFCO)


The 400 acres of ancient woodland on the Abbots Ripton Estate are an important addition to the landscape of a county which is short of trees. Our 1623 map shows more or less the same area as today. In the Middle Ages the woodland was worth more than the rather heavy farmland.

Much of the timber in the woods was depleted by two World Wars and by Dutch Elm disease. Thirty years of replanting with ash, oak and field maple is restoring them to their former condition – an act of faith at the time because until very recently their only value was sporting. For the last five years Forestry Grants and the increasing value of timber have helped restore both the conservation and timber values. Opening up the shaded rides has dried them and let in the sunlight encouraging nectar bearing plants and a diversity of butterflies. Active management for timber production will help to maintain the improvements.

While conversion to 100% arable farming over the last sixty years has resulted in larger fields, lost habitat has been replaced by spinneys and new hedgerows by taking arable land out of production under the Farm Woodland grant scheme. These plantings such as the five acre Millennium Wood at Grange Farm are now making very visible improvements to landscape around Abbots Ripton. A Diamond Jubilee Wood is being planted in the Village.

A longer term project has been the repurchase of the 90 acre Bevills Wood from the Forestry Commission. It is now being managed to recreate an ancient wood by the removal of the non-indigenous species. The Forestry Commission scheme for Deer management is vital to the coppicing and re-growth essential to re-establishing indigenous species.

Forestry has at last a brighter future with the rise in timber values and the introduction of Government schemes to encourage the use of wood for heating. The installation of a 150kw wood burning boiler has allowed the Estate to reduce its carbon footprint and stimulate the active management of the woods.