Felled Northamptonshire forest's bird survey held back to 'protect rare eggs' despite conservationists' calls

The Forestry Commission has refused to release a bird survey carried out on a wood near Northampton following of a tree-felling operation last month.

Monday, 24th July 2017, 9:36 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:36 am
Areas of Denton Wood were felled in June for eco fuel.
Areas of Denton Wood were felled in June for eco fuel.

Members of a Northamptonshire conservation team say Denton Wood, south of Denton, is home to great crested newts, bats and breeding birds. They claim the area was 'cleared' in disregard for any survey in June.

The Yardley Chase Conservation Team has accused the Forestry Commission of "knowingly" destroying eggs and nests during nesting season and are calling for Denton Wood's bird survey to be published.

But the government body has refused to release details of the survey as it would attract rare-egg collectors to Denton Wood.

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A spokeswoman from the Forestry Commission said: "Our wildlife survey data contains the precise locations of rare, sensitive and protected species.

"This is held in a way that means it is not possible to release the information requested in a way that would remove the risks associated with this information falling into the wrong hands. It is widely recognised that this type of data is abused by individuals wishing to target rare or threatened wildlife."

Denton Wood, south of Denton, is owned by Castle Ashby Compton Estates while the trees are managed by the Forestry Commission. It is closed to the public.

Speaking in June after the felling, Jeff Blincow, a member of the Yardley Chase Conservation Team, which has access to Denton Wood, said: "When I first saw the clear-felled area, there was a single tree left with a Goldcrest sat on it calling to its mate. It was a crying shame.

"There is no reason to do this work now. It could have easily waited until nesting season was over.

"Wild bird nests and eggs are being destroyed as well as other wildlife that is at an important stage in their life-cycles. They want to make money out of the forest and it suits them not to know what damage they are doing."

Northamptonshire Police have made enquiries into the felling operation to establish if a wildlife crime has been committed.

Inspector Kev Byrne of Northamptonshire Police said:"We received a report several weeks ago. We have liaised with the relevant agencies, including Natural England and the National Wildlife Unit, and we are now waiting for a final report from the Crown Prosecution Service."