This past Sunday Stuart and I were joined by volunteers from the Southwood Woodland Improvement Group (SWIG) and Guildford Royal Grammar School. The job of the day was to coppice some hazel stands within the woodland understory.
Coppicing is a traditional woodland management technique that involves felling older stands of hazel to encourage new shoots to come through. This highly effective technique has been used for centuries as a way of harvesting stakes and binders for hedge-laying. Now it is more often used as a conservation tool for its benefits to wildlife. The newly cleared areas allow light to hit the woodland floor which encourage a diversity of wildflowers, including Bluebells. The large stools the technique creates also provide good hibernation spots for Dormice.
The volunteers started the day using bow-saws to fell the then rather large Hazel trees. The trunks were often twisted around each other making it tricky to untangle them. Time was then put into processing what was cut into stumpery, stake, binder and fluffy size trunks and branches. The stumpery size trunks were then used to build a home for stag beetles. Half of the stakes and binders were then taken away to be used on the Cove Brook hedge-laying task. The other half were used to create a basket of protection around the hazel stumps to stop deer from eating the new shoots.
Becky from Guildford Royal Grammar School has this to say about the day, “Many thanks for a great day. The boys and I all really enjoyed the task and it was great to see the woven baskets around the stumps at the end.”
Thank you to Stuart and all the volunteers who joined us. Your hard work means we can keep the site looking good and of the highest value for wildlife.
Acting Ranger Jenny