Whilst working in the wood I spotted Wild Garlic beginning to poke through the dead leaves, is Spring on its way? I'm looking forward to making some delicious wild garlic soup!
Monday, 23 February 2015
The Wenlock Edge Community Wildlife group (WECWG) and the bird ringing group came to Wenlock Edge last week to help us fix some dilapidated pied flycatcher nest boxes. We were lucky with the weather and we got lots repaired and re-positioned. There are still some to do and we have to finish before mid-March so we will be heading out to finish off soon. Thanks to everyone who helped out!
Linda and Miles putting up a repaired box
Clearing out the old moss and dead leaves
Thursday, 5 February 2015
Over the past few weeks we have been making the most of the frozen ground and dry days by getting in the woods to thin and to drag timber out of the woods. We have lots to do and have been working all over the Edge. We have been thinning a large stand of Beech trees on Hughley bank, pulling timber out near the old railway and felling trees in Longville Coppice.
Our regular volunteers have also been burning brash for us, which has been left over from some hedgelaying work. There is loads to burn so they have been working away at it for a few weeks now but they are almost done! Thanks for all your hard work guys!
Last week we held a Winter woodland walk for volunteers at Wenlock Edge. It was led by Area Ranger Alistair Heath and was very successful with 21 volunteers attending. Alistair told us about woodland management, timber sales and wildlife before we tucked into cupcakes and warmed up with cups of tea and coffee.
We walked to the meadow and discussed the National Trust's landscape scale plans, ownership and conservation grazing before heading back into the woods to find out about ancient woodland, coppicing and access. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves despite the cold wind!
The birds at Wenlock Edge are well looked after, as the Rangers make sure the feeders at the bird hide are topped up regularly. We would like to thank the Shropshire Centre as this couldn't be done without their generous support. Here are some pictures of some of the birds tucking in.
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
There are lots of volunteering opportunities at Wenlock Edge and as a volunteer you could get involved with engagement, practical conservation, wildlife surveying and more. We will be at priory hall in Much Wenlock on Tuesday the 20th January from 5pm till 7:30pm to recruit volunteers and to answer questions about volunteering. So if you want to find out how you can help look after and promote Wenlock Edge then please come along and see how you can get involved.
Thinning is a means of manipulating the development of woodlands or plantations, either for quality or quantity of trees. Conifers is usually quantity, broadleaves is usually quality. Traditionally the primary aim is to remove a proportion of the growing/competing trees to concentrate the growth of volume (not height) of the remainder.
Thinning may be selective, where the poorest quality trees are cut to free space for better trees, which are usually the biggest and healthiest anyway, and have the best form. The trees taken might be supressed, diseased, twisted, forked, damaged or leaning. Otherwise, thinning may be systematic, where trees are removed according to a plan devised in advance. This is easier and cheaper but has less control of quality. Thinning can also be used to favour different species, provide an income or increase light to the forest floor, increasing biodiversity. Timing of thinning is also important; leaving the crop too open can result in stress, sun scorch and increase the risk of wind damage, uprooting, snapping or breaking. Thinning too late will result in spindly stems and supressed growth, and could result in inappropriate species dominating.
Conventional forestry thinking was always to produce the most profitable crop but recent woodland management priorities may mean that benefits to nature, conservation and recreation have changed thinning policies. At Wenlock, all the managed woodland was acquired pre-planted or in mid rotation, so all the work has been playing the hand that we bought. All Wenlock thinnings are selective and look to create a balance of some veteran trees, log production, cordwood production, natural regeneration, deadwood, open areas and a healthy understorey. A mix of heights and ages is also desirable. Thinning allows for a gradual transition to this end objective, while retaining woodland cover and avoiding the large visual impact of clear felling and replanting.
Thinning policy has generally been to favour native broadleaves and there has been a general presumption against “exotics” and heavy shade bearers (sitka spruce, norway spruce, western red cedar), particularly on ancient woodland sites. Japanese larch, has not been so much of a problem, until the arrival in the UK of Phytophthora Ramorum (fatal disease). At Wenlock some plantation conifers were unsuited to the site or were poorly maintained allowing local seed bank tree species to take over, producing mixed woodland. With the increasing threats to woodland (disease, climate change) maintaining this diversity is one way of “future proofing” Wenlock woods. However, with the new demand for woodfuel, and the unknown impact of ash die back pending, the rationale behind thinning is constantly evolving.
Thinning at Wenlock is very much a balancing act where priorities often carry different weighting depending on the site, the potential and the practicality. The woods have been actively managed for hundreds of years by patrons who believed their prescriptions were the best – now in the twenty first century we know best – don’t we?
By Alistair Heath (Area Ranger at Wenlock Edge)