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Box Woodland Project

In a small number of historic places in the Chilterns, ancient box woodland exists as remnants of a habitat that was once more extensive. There are only three officially recognised native box woodlands in the UK and the largest of these lies on the Chilterns escarpment near Great Kimble in Buckinghamshire. In these box woodlands, rare lichens and insects have established niches over the centuries.

The human story around box is equally rich. Woodlands were harvested for boxwood timber which is regarded by woodworkers as the best wood for woodcarving due to its high density. In the past, local lace-makers used bobbins made of boxwood to produce the famous Bucks Point lace. Today, there are a handful of people working with boxwood in and around the Chilterns. Stuart King makes decorative wooden objects, Edward Stamp creates prints by engraving box woodblocks and Katherine Spencer plays the boxwood clarinet.Box woodland at Ellesborough Warren

Chilterns Box Woodland Project 2013-2015

The Chilterns Conservation Board launched the Chilterns Box Woodland Project in January 2013 to research, conserve and celebrate the area’s box heritage. This work is made possible following the Conservation Board’s successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition to HLF funding, the project is supported by significant volunteer effort. The project will run initially until summer 2015.

Local people and visitors will benefit from the project in various ways. There will be a variety of volunteer opportunities enabling people to:

  • propagate seedlings for future box woodlands
  • trace the history of boxwood objects in archives
  • carry out surveys of ancient trees and wildlife, and more.

A series of free public events is being held offering experiences including music recitals with boxwood instruments and guided walks to explore the ecology of ancient box trees and woods. Throughout the project, online resources will be developed and made available for free including film and audio clips of boxwood instruments. There is also guidance on managing box including ancient trees and historic box woodlands. A new walk leaflet guides people through the countryside near Chequers, exploring places rich with box heritage. Local schools will be engaged through new education resources about box. 

Find out more about volunteer opportunities



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Get in touch

Sarah Wright 

For more information or to discuss volunteer opportunities, please contact the Project Officer, Sarah Wright:


Direct mobile 07775 010414

Switchboard 01844 355500

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