Wentwood’s First Woodland Working Group
The 19th February marked a key date in the Coed Cadw Calendar as myself and Rob Davies welcomed our new Woodland Working Group Members to their base at Wentwood Forest.
After a brief introduction we took the forest path down to The Glade Tea Rooms where we were warmly greeted by the café owner Henry, plenty of tea and cake to give us an early morning energy boost before starting the day’s activities.
Once settled into the cosy café we listened attentively to Rob as he explained the issues currently affecting Wentwood, such as Ash Dieback Disease and the damage caused to the ancient burial grounds by off road bikes. He then clarified how the Woodland Trust are putting resources in place to combat these negative impacts and how the group can play a vital role in helping protect and restore this magnificent ancient woodland.
Furthermore, Rob explained how the group will be participating in physical tasks for the first few months, including coppicing, balsam pulling and repairing the ancient burial mound, and in the summer months working on less physical tasks (as we don’t want to disturb the dormant dormice) including planting new oak trees, and reptile and insect monitoring, as well as collecting the plastic tree guards so they can be re-used. A wonderfully varied work plan which was greeted by an almost electric amount of energy and enthusiasm!
Before getting started, Rob reinforced the importance of working responsibly with tools, being mindful of those working around you and how to plan your ‘escape route’ when coppicing trees. We then all ‘tooled up’ and headed out to start the day’s activity – coppicing birch trees in order to promote biodiversity in the area.
Weather permitting, we began by placing ‘Forestry Warning’ signs around an area of birch trees that were entangled with brambles and long grass. Rob then demonstrated how to use the tools safely to break down the brambles so that we could get to the base of the trees effectively. In no time at all, the area was visible again as the team working in pairs to break down the bracken.
Once we were confident the area was safe and no one in danger of falling over any uneven ground, Rob demonstrated how to coppice a tree effectively. Band saws at the ready, and accompanied by myself and Rob, the group made light work of coppicing the trees and cutting the wood down for use as fire wood.
Time seemed to have flown by when we realised it was 3.30pm and time to pack up for the day.
Overall, I was really impressed by what the group had accomplished, and it had been wonderful to watch the party work so seamlessly together, helping each other get to grips with tools or making sure that areas are safe before yelling a high spirited TIMBERRRR!!
Roll on session 2!
P.s – I have invested in a good camera now so will be sure to get even more photos next time! Including videos for those who are willing 🙂
Bethany Picton (Volunteer Development Officer – Wales)