Last week, the Monday work party team began coppicing a section of Willow near the shoreline of the reservoir. The purpose of this work is to let more light into the area, and to create more space and a diverse array of habitat for a rich variety of species. Work continued in this coppice block yesterday, with more trees being taken down. Some of these trees were small and easily coppiced, whereas others were rather large, necessitating the use of chainsaws, and came crashing down with a splendid-sounding splintering boom!
Some of the cut material was burnt on the fire, whilst some was left to rot on the woodland floor, with stacks of logs being left as habitat piles. Going slightly against the grain for those with the urge to leave the work area neat, woodlands are not meant to be tidy places. Known as coarse woody debris, dead wood lying on the ground is imperative to the health and diversity of the woodland, as it creates a habitat for insects, fungi and bryophytes, and also allows the recycling of nutrients from the wood back into the soil. Similarly, standing dead wood, also known as snags, are essential components of a woodland ecosystem.
Woody material that falls into water courses is also a superb habitat, and should be left alone where possible. Trees or branches can fall or get swept into and become lodged in streams, rivers, or the ephemeral shallow waters of lakes and reservoirs. This sort of organic obstruction in a water course is brilliant, as it can modify the movement of water and sediments, and provide shelter and potential nest sites for fish, mammals and amphibians.
We had a team of 20 dedicated volunteers working hard in the woods yesterday, despite the foreboding weather forecast. In actual fact, the weather wasn’t too inclement, with just a touch of wind and a bit of rain. Nothing the Monday work party team cannot cope with! There were happy faces all round as we worked together and were able to look back and see what a difference had been made as a result of our work.
Then, of course, there was soup and cake for lunch thanks to Paul and Jan!
Thank you to Paul Stammers for all of the above photographs.