This past winter, our volunteers have been busy coppicing in the woodland. Over the years, the canopy has grown too dense, cutting out the light to the woodland flora and spreading too much ivy that has crowded out many of the ground loving plants. By letting in the sunshine, we will encourage woodland plants such as primrose, snowdrops and bluebells to grow and spread.
The work was done over a period of a few weeks by volunteers and work experience placements, who enjoyed the fresh air and physical exercise. In addition to the clearing work, they created a dead hedge from branches, which will give shelter to small animals, especially birds.
The woodland, for most part, was planted during the course of one year, about 40 years ago. This means that most of the trees are of the same age. Mixed age woodlands are much more important ecologically. Staff and volunteers intend to carry out a rolling programme of woodland coppicing over the coming years, as a large proportion of the trees are ash, which are being hit by the devastating Ash Dieback disease and will need replacing in any case. We aim to start planting new trees next year to add to the woodland diversity, having already planted over 500 hedging plants, mainly around our boundary, over the last few years.