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Tree Planting

Page history last edited by Julia 4 years, 6 months ago

~Tree Planting~

 

In the winter of 2004-2005 we undertook our first big project, planting 1.18 hectares(about 3 acres) of new woodland. The idea was to create a new area of coppice to complement the existing woodland. This would give us something like 2.5 hectares (6 acres)to coppice in a twelve or thirteen year cycle. More information about the coppice rotation is in our management plan. We applied for a grant from the Forestry Commission to fund most of the costs.

 

The area we decided to plant was at the far end of the land over the brow of the hill. The area is a little corner of field, sloping gently down to the north, which was already fenced on three sides making it easy to divide it off. Although the site is fairly exposed, and quite a trek to get to, we decided it would be suitable with a shelter belt on the west side. It also makes sense to have woodland with little day-to-day management in the furthest corner of the land.

 

The woodland was designed to yield useful coppice products but also to add valuable habitat to the land. We agreed to divide the area into four separate coppice compartments, separated by rides (clear strips a few meters wide to provide access) as well as planting a shelter belt on the western edge. We decided for the sake of wildlife and conservation to plant only native broadleaves, apart from sweet chestnut which we made an exception for due to the usefulness of its timber. The main species planted in the coppice are hazel, ash and sweet chestnut which all provide very useful poles when coppiced. To this we added a sprinkle of oaks to provide potential standards (trees not cut in the coppice cycle, but allowed to grow on to become larger trees to add to habitat diversity and to provide larger timber). A few clumps of wild cherry and the odd holly add interest. Along the edges of the rides an assortment of shrubs and smaller trees were planted to provide variety in the woodland edge habitat. Species such as spindle, geulder rose, field maple, wild rose and rowan were used as well as crab apples and damsons to give a potential harvest of wild fruit along the sunny south facing edges. More of these were included along the southern edge of the wood at the boundary with the rest of our land. Along the western edge we planted a shelter belt 10m wide with dense shrubs (gorse, blackthorn, hawthorn) backed up with sycamore and oaks. The sloping profile and dense trees tolerant of exposed locations is designed to give permanent shelter from the prevailing winds. This will obviously not be cut as part of the coppicing regime.

 

The plan was to do the tree planting in late winter, as the Forestry Commission had taken so long to process our grant application. We had to get an access track put in first and construct some shelters for people to stay in during the planting. We started in the middle of February 2005, and it took three weeks to plant the 2600 or so trees. For those of us who were there for the whole time it was very hard work, especially as we had decided to do it the hard way, removing a 1 meter square of turf for each tree and mulching it with a thick layer of newspaper. This was partly an economic decision, but also an opportunity to recycle what would otherwise be a waste product. We had to carry all materials: trees, spades, mattocks etc up the hill by hand, and this included about a tonne of newspaper for the mulch. The weather was not very kind either, and seemed to keep up a strong northerly wind for the entire period, blowing in rain, hail and even snow and keeping it bitingly cold. The planting site is the only part of the land exposed to northerly winds. Nevertheless, with the help of many hardworking volunteers who came for anything from a few hours to several days, we got it done. Everyone now agrees it was worthwhile, as the trees are doing well with a very high survival rate. They have put on good growth in the first two years and one or two cherries in the more sheltered spots are above head height already.

It is wonderful to be able to watch a wood grow, knowing that you planted it!

 

Projects    
  Tree planting/New woodland
  Coppicing
  Orchard
  Gardens
  Arboretum
  Products:

 

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