Improving a small wood (3 images).

This is the edge of a small wood taking up half the area of a high and dry safe field alongside Wilden Lane. When in residence, the cattle spend their nights sheltering in the wood and their days grazing out in the open. This is also the field in which the cows and calves are placed when they are ill, and where they are TB tested. A vicious wind blows from the west through the wood, and across the open grazing area of the field.

The wood is full of hawthorn, blackthorn, elder and hazel. I have a feeling there are a few larch trees in there as well. Sprawling crack willow pollards and alder saplings take up more space than can be justified. The tall, sprawling willow pollards in particular could be a danger to the cattle; their long, thick trunks stretch out in all directions, many along the ground, reducing the amount of space, light to the ground, and grazing. In high winds, there is always the possibility of a crack willow trunk breaking and injuring the cattle. There are many broken willow trunks in the wood highlighting the risk.

The sun rises over the hill in the distance and sets behind and to the right of the photographer. The main grazing area is also to the right of the image. We worked in the south-western area of the wood today (approximately one-eighth of its total area)  – the side on which the sun shines. The sun sets behind a  very tall alder windbreak stretching almost the whole western length of the field, apart from where I have constructed the brash pile windbreak.

The poor condition of this wood has concerned me for a few years, so I have decided to do something about it over the next few years. Opening up the wood will improve the connection to  three different parts of the marsh – enabling links for inverts, butterflies, flower seed  and birds – in fact, it’s a really important development.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take any “before” photos; those below are all taken at the end of today.

Whilst on our tea break this morning, we talked about people’s attitude, in general, to trees being felled. None of the trees coppiced, or felled today will die; they will all re-shoot and continue growing. In fact, coppicing and pollarding extends the useful life of a tree.


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A 1.5 metre windbreak constructed from brash and fallen trees.

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A small area of the wood that we cleared today.


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Another view of the small area of wood we cleared today.

13 Comments on “Improving a small wood (3 images).

  1. That is the great thing about many deciduous trees – they will just re-sprout unlike conifers!


  2. Nice post, Mike. I did some forest tree pruning and felling last summer (leaving stumps, logs, and snags for habitat). It took me several seasons to plan it out carefully as to which trees to take. The selections were good, and already we’re seeing some wonderful, positive changes taking place among our native plants and wildlife.


    • Thanks Julie. It’s the fast growing trees alder, birch and willow that I’m coppicing. Some old willows I pollard.

      I’m glad your hard work is bringing positive results.

      The wood I mention in the post connects three different parts of the marsh – enabling links for inverts, butterflies, flower seeds and birds – a really important marsh asset.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good work. I look forward to following this project. I know how terrifying unmanaged woods are in high winds, such a quantity of cracking and crashing!


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