In the later Middle Ages, monarchs developed hunting forests. These forests were not necessarily covered with trees but had a variety of landscape features. A forest is, in fact, a tract of land which is subject to the Forest Laws. This means that all proceeds went to the king and that only the royal household had the right to hunt.
Clearing and farming were forbidden, however, the king sometimes allowed nobles to have private forests called chases. These private hunting areas were subject to common law, however the lord of the manor had the exclusive right to hunt.
The Forest of Haye (Haywood) just south of Hereford, was a large royal forest during the Middle Ages and provided much of the timber for the building of Hereford Castle. In 1383 Richard II granted Hereford town 30 oaks from the King’s Forest of the Haye to repair the bridge across the Wye.
International Day of Forests
Today is International Day of Forests and is a global celebration of forests raising awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.
Forests cover one third of the Earth’s land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people – including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures – depend on forests for their livelihood.
They are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. They also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.
They play a key role in our battle with climate change contributing to the balance of oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air. They protect watersheds, which supply 75% of freshwater worldwide.
Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
The theme for this year “Forests and Climate Change” highlights forest-based solutions to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, and more broadly forests and sustainable development.
Today’s forests in Herefordshire
We are very fortunate to be situated in the beautiful Wye Valley surrounded by unspoilt countryside, forests and protected ancient woodlands. The Royal Forest of Dean is a short drive away and is one of England’s few remaining ancient forests, covering over 27,000 acres of ancient woodland and is officially designated as a National Forest Park.
Surrounding Hereford we are spoilt with swathes of woodland and forest providing wonderful walks for all abilities. Bring your mountain bikes, there are bike trails all over the county to enjoy.