The BBC4 documentary Oak Tree: Nature's Greatest Survivor beat two series: Big Blue Live (BBC1) and Japan (BBC2) to win the Science and Natural History Programme of Year Award at the recent Royal Television Society Awards in 2016. The programme followed a year in the life of a 350 year old oak tree in Wytham Woods, mapping the life cycles of the myriad of insects, birds and mammals that utilise the tree as well as delving into the history of the oak tree in Britain and its uses through the ages. Time lapse cameras followed the tree through the seasons, and lasers were utilised to map every leaf.
In January 2016 the Woods signed up for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme, part of the government’s Rural Development Programme for England 2014-2020. The scheme offers grants to help landowners, farmers and foresters improve our environment and countryside. Wytham Woods is guaranteed Forestry Commission grant aid for woodland management for the next ten years and grassland management for the next five. The funds will allow Woods staff to maintain arable weed populations, enhance the biodiversity of the calcareous grasslands they manage, improve the health of veteran trees, and improve public access throughout the Woods.
Wytham Woods is certified by the UKWAS (UK Woodland Assurance Scheme) independent standard for sustainable woodland management in the UK. The scheme covers all aspects of woodland management, including consultations with stakeholders, health and safety, staff training, nature conservation, and use of pesticides and herbicides. The Woods are surveyed annually to ensure the required standard is reached.
The team that manages Wytham Woods is accredited to the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standard, which assesses how they interact with customers in 57 areas covering customer insight, culture of the organisation, information and access, delivery, timeliness and quality of service, and staff training and engagement.
The team was assessed as showing best practice in the use of social media, increasing access by the general public, having a wide range of partnership arrangements that benefit customers, and the relationship between Wytham Woods and Wytham village, with benefits for the wider community.