Thursday, 4 November 2010

learning to manage woodland

Our new site is fringed by woodland along its western and southern boundaries.

Learning to manage this woodland will be an immense pleasure and challenge over the coming years.

The woodland along the western side has an understory of briar with silver birch (betula pendula) and some emerging oak (quercus rubor).

Timber seems to have little commercial value and therefore woodland is frequently not actively managed in Britain. There is little profit and it is frequently literally not work the effort. The consequence of this neglect is trees of a similar age and a uniform, closed canopy in the majority of our woodlands. This in turn has led to the serious reductions in woodland birds.

Birds need native woodland that has some established trees, but it also needs clearings, scrub and immature trees to create the diversity of conditions that invertebrates require and that in turn provide food for birds and mammals. The challenge for us, as we begin to shape the woodland to encourage wildlife, is to create a multi-aged, multi-storey woodland that can become home to woodland birds.

The photo shows an oak growing very close to three silverbirch trunks. The oak will gradually outgrow its taller neighbours but we can speed the process by removing some of the competition from the birches.

I have sawn around one of the birch trunks in an attempt to kill that trunk. The death of a tree breathes life into woodland: the upright, decaying trunks of silver birch are home to many invertebrates and are favoured by greater spotted woodpeckers for nesting.

Bird species seen on site so far:
  • tawny owl
  • kestrel
  • sparrowhawk
  • buzzard
  • greater spotted woodpecker
  • green woodpecker
  • magpie
  • jay
  • carrion crow
  • rook
  • chaffinch
  • bullfinch
  • blackbird
  • robin
  • great tit
  • blue tit
  • coal tit
  • wren

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