Saturday, 20 January 2007

Friday 12th January 2007

The Forestry Commission visited today to give advice on how we can manage the woodland for the benefit of wildlife. We walked the wood and I was disappointed that the Forestry Commission advisor could not tell me what the fern species were (I guess that’s not his job), but he seemed to have good knowledge on general woodland management. In general he agreed with our plans, and provided clarification on a few points, in particular:
· The glade we are clearing is well positioned, at the south edge of the wood with a field adjacent; this will allow easy colonisation of the glade by butterflies etc. He suggested that the trees cut to create the glade could be maintained on short rotation coppice (2 yrs).
· Much of the chestnut coppice hasn’t been felled for over 20 years, the stools themselves maybe over 150 years old.
· 2 main options for the coppicing are either
bringing in a contractor to coppice 2 acres or so at a time, or
coppice it ourselves and do about 0.5 acre per year.
The 1st option may bring in about £100-200, while the second option could be better for wildlife as this will provide a more varied range of habitats (and so our management plan will include option 2).
· The hazel in the gulleys is well overdue for coppicing. He suggested the gulleys be managed either fully coppiced, or as standards with a coppice hazel understorey.
· We should maintain a variety of deadwood; standing, wind blown, felled and stacked.
· Regular cutting should be enough to control the rhododendron, as it is quite young.
· The local Forestry Commission policy on ‘permitted developments’ such as tool sheds is that they will advise the council against granting authorisation if we apply.
· The north east corner which is a SSSI should simply be maintained as coppice. We just need to write to Natural England for approval before we coppice it.

Following the visit, I spend some time just wandering and wondering. I stop in the south east corner and take some time to connect with the spirits of place. This corner has a lovely feel to it; a sheltered gulley with a stream winding through it, slender hazels, lumpy alders and a trunk clad in fungi (trametes versicolor?) bridging the stream. Am pondering with whether to give this part of the wood a name, maybe “Cunnits’ Corner” or “Sulis’ Gill”?