Monday, 15 November 2010

Woodland Thinning

Looking up hill at the start of the job.
Alistair and myself have been thinning the trees out in Northway wood for the past few months, with the help of Seamus and Lee from Broadacre Tree Services. Throughout Autumn and Winter this work accounts for 3 days work per week. The work is necessary as the trees are so close together that it is starting to inhibit their growth, if left the area would have very few quality, large trees that in the future would provide usable timber as well as valuable habitat for insects and nesting birds. The trees compete for light, which whilst they are young is good as it encourages vertical growth, as the trees get older they require more space so that they can put on girth in the trunk (timber).
Well in advance of commencing felling, the trees that are to be removed such as the ones with the worst form, least vigour, diseased or damaged by squirrels are marked. An application is then made to the Forestry Commission to carry out the planned work, once this is agreed in the form of a licence being granted we can begin.
By thinning the trees more sunlight can reach the woodland floor, this encourages the growth of wild flowers such as primroses and also allows tree seeds to germinate and become established. These will be the future trees of Wenlock Edge, so whilst it may seem bad that so many trees are being cut down it is actually beneficial to the woodland in the long term.
The trees are felled in such a way that they are in rows, pointing down the hill. This makes the task of extracting the timber with a tractor mounted winch much easier. Once winched down the hill the wood is processed into the required lengths depending on the tree species. Hardwood goes mainly for firewood whilst softwood often becomes fence posts of different sizes. Lengths are then stacked accordingly by hand ready for selling on.
Alistair tackling a 40 year old Spruce!
This area we are working in was planted with Larch and Sitka Spruce about 40 years ago, the Larch trees have generally grown well but much of the Spruce has not done so well. Removal of these trees takes time but there is no value in them so it becomes harder to make any money from doing the job. Hopefully in the future the trees that are left will provide a better source of income. In the mean time we will be left with a diverse woodland with a variety of ages of trees, rich in a variety of flora and fauna.

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