Restoring the Landscapes of the Past for the Future at Essex Country Parks

An ambitious programme of landscape restoration is taking place at the Essex Country Parks to boost biodiversity and strengthen habitats for rare, declining and protected species for the future.

Posted on 25th June 2024

Did you know that the Essex County Council manage eight country parks, which cover 1,000 hectares of land in the county?

We are lucky to have such luscious large green spaces in Essex, and we're sure you would agree it's really important that the parks are managed well for the benefit of residents, visitors and the wildlife within.

The Essex Country Parks team are responsible for managing a rich mix of landscape, from coastal salt and grazing marsh to ancient woodlands, grasslands and everything in-between.

Many of these landscapes have a vibrant history dating back to medieval deer parks and great Tudor mansions.

The parks are home to a variety of rare and protected plants, birds, insects and mammals, including lesser spotted woodpeckers and purple hairstreak butterflies.

They are significant from a local, national and international point of view and contain Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Areas and Ramsar Sites.

Countryside stewardship funding awarded

We're thrilled to have been successful in securing funding of over £1 million from the government's Countryside Stewardship scheme and National Highways.

This funding will enable Essex County Council (ECC) to continue to lead the way in nature recovery with our ambitious programme to restore and maintain our historic landscapes over a number of years, all overseen by leading ecologists and approved by Natural England.

Andrew Hartley, Land Management Adviser for Natural England, said:

“It’s been fantastic working with ECC to develop the Countryside Stewardship scheme which will deliver some impressive environmental gains across the Country Parks supporting wildlife, protecting the historic environment and enhancing the landscape.”

What type of landscape restoration and management will you undertake?

Grassland and veteran tree at Weald Country Park
Grassland and veteran tree at Weald Country Park


We will use a combination of machinery and rare breed animals to manage, enhance and restore 150 hectares of grasslands.

Good grassland benefits rare and locally declining plants and important insects and pollinators, including the rare shrill and brown-banded carder bees currently found at Hadleigh.

Red poll cattle grazing at Essex Country Parks
Red poll cattle grazing at Essex Country Parks

Grazing marsh

We will be managing 179 hectares of grazing marsh to improve conditions for overwintering waders and brent geese.

We will be installing fencing at Cudmore Grove Country Park to support the breeding success of birds such as lapwings and redshanks.

Salt marsh

We will improve 19 hectares of saltmarsh and shingle which will support ground nesting birds such as the ringed plover to breed successfully, which is getting harder each year with coastal erosion.

Veteran tree at Thorndon Country Park
Veteran tree at Thorndon Country Park

Wood pasture

We will restore and manage 306 hectares of wood pasture at the Essex Country Parks by reducing the tree canopy cover and increasing the open areas, and managing the veteran trees.

Did you have know we have 500 veteran trees across the eight parks, with Thorndon and Weald being in the top twenty sites for saproxylic beetles in England.


We will improve the health of 351 hectares of woodland, removing some trees, mainly invasive and plantation, to create a more varied structure for the future.

We'll open up some areas up to let light in, which will benefit a variety of plants and insects, birds and mammals.

Opening areas of woodland up at Weald to let the light in
Opening areas of woodland up at Weald to let the light in

The Essex Country Parks team are committed to providing high quality green spaces to benefit both wildlife and people for the future.

Read more about the Landscape Restoration we are doing at:

Hadleigh Country Park

Thorndon Country Park

Weald Country Park