Summer feels like it was a long time and as we enter the final month of this most chaotic of years, plans for the reserve have been kicked into action for a number of reasons. There are presently a number of tasks to perform that will keep me busy for most of the upcoming winter months. Throughout the year I had looked at the woodland behind the reserve and as you know I found out last year that the boundary line of the flat’s garden/reserve area extended into the woods and I had already removed a few Ash and Sycamore trees that were shading the garden area and the flats themselves. I had earmarked a few more trees to be felled when the leaves came down. Now in keeping with the chaos of the year, two major things happened.
Firstly, I ended up in hospital for a week and that kind of got in the way of some of my plans. Upon my release I was instructed to rest for up to 2 months! This was not part of my plan but was needed to be done and as I started to feel a bit stronger I did venture out and eyed up some of the trees to be felled. I realised that it would take quite a bit more time and strength before I could begin to deal with some of the larger trees. The slope of the woodland also made things a tad more difficult. Well sometimes your wishes can be met from unexpected sources and this turned out to be the case with regards to my plans for the said trees.
Secondly, in early November, I received a letter from the council informing me that the woodland behind the flats was to be thinned and reduced by 10 metres from the woodland edge My earmarked trees were in this 10-metre section and realising this potential effort saving proposal would save me a lot of time and energy. I decided to check the situation with the council tree officer who would be overseeing the job.
I often forget that I’m a member of the public when discussing environmental issues with ‘ official organisations ‘ to which the local council belong. I was also very aware that the proposed work was not being carried out for conservation reasons but according to the letter that all residents along the road received, the thinning was to stop the shading of the gardens and houses and to deter anti-social behaviour which presumably refers to the youngsters that were visiting the playing fields during the lockdown earlier in the year. The two things I was keen to find out was whether any of the felled trees would be taken away and if any of the felled tree stumps would be treated to stop them re- growing. The answers I got to both questions, as expected, was no!
From my wanderings in the woodland I had noted a lot of logs that had been left there from the previous time they thinned the woodland edge. The tree officer informed me that because of the terrain of the area, getting a chipper in would very difficult to get in and all the felled wood would be left to rot on the ground. Part of me agreed with him and I am very aware of the benefits of dead wood for a variety of invertebrate species which is in general a good thing but from my aforementioned wanderings I had noted a few contentious issues that were having an effect on the biodiversity of the general area.
As we know, all wildlife species have to fight to survive and in simplistic terms, some are better at fighting than others and during my wanderings I had noted that where the rotting timber was laying, 2 species had practically covered the whole of the woodland floor. The 2 species in question will be very familiar to most gardeners as Ivy and Brambles seem to be present in all the gardens I’ve ever worked in. They had managed to set seed in amongst the decaying timber and had spread out and covered the whole woodland floor and out competed any other wildflower seeds that may have been in the soil. The woodland itself is north facing and some of the more delicate species would find it hard going even without the competition from the Ivy and Brambles.
With the latest thinning work being finished, I have been left with a very untidy piece of woodland with piles of brash and logs in random places. I decided that if my vision of a small piece of woodland edge with some Hazel coppice was going to happen, as a result of the recent work, this was going to be the winter to try and make it happen.
You may feel somewhat confused at my talk of killing things and chopping down trees and think that I’m not much of a conservationist and I seem to be doing more to harm to the wildlife than helping the local wildlife. There are very good reasons why some of the apparent outrageous action/ ideas will benefit the local wildlife.
Ever since I had moved to my flat I had looked at the woods and realised that they were, from a bio diversity perspective, somewhat lacking
The lack of biodiversity is a result of some of the points I have raised here and I realised that it will take some effort to establish a more varied habitat and an improved biodiversity.
I’m quite pleased with the potential habitat improvement possibilities that are on my own door step and am hoping to link up the habitats that I have created in the past two years. I have also realised that it will be a lot of work to carry out on my own and I may not be able to do all the work I would like to. Only time will tell on that and I have only just started to implement parts of the plan but everyday am seeing a lot of potential and the regular wildlife species that I have come to know, seem to be present and doing well. In the last week a Song Thrush has started singing in the woods, which pleases me as this once common songster is nationally declining. I’m planning potential nesting sites for them.
I will continue the tidying up of the area ,which has this week included a good bonfire, and let’s see how far I can get in the next few months.