The wet weather at the start of the day wasn’t enough to deter the Southwood Woodland Improvement Group this month. Our mission was threefold and nothing could stop us not even double layers of concrete!
Our main task was to open up the heathland glade by digging out tree saplings and cutting back Broom and European gorse. This habitat gives us a great insight into what the area may have looked like back when it was a medieval farm.
Heathlands were a big part of the farming system heather for thatch, turves for fuel, bracken for bedding and potash and gorse for bread ovens and livestock fodder. Grazing and tree removal in this area hundreds of years ago will have caused the nutrient levels in the soil to fall further and the acidity to increase, which will have encouraged heather to grow. Without this task the glade would naturally develop back into woodland. By cutting back the scrub encroachment we can keep a diversity of habitats and the local history alive.
The volunteers also removed a fingerpost that had unfortunately been vandalised. It took a lot longer than expected because there was not one but TWO layers of concrete holding the post in!
We also sowed seeds and planted bulbs as part of the Blackwater Valley Countryside Trust project to improve the understory of woodlands in the Blackwater Valley. The seeds and bulbs included different native species chosen for their ability to thrive in shady areas underneath the woodland canopy. Keep an eye out next Spring for wildlfowers.
Thank you very much to all the volunteers for their hard work.
If you would like to find out more or join us, please meet us at 10:30am at the Kennels Lane entrance on Sunday 24th November.