Ok well maybe not that distant, but the Isle of Wight certainly looked and felt like a far off land this morning from aboard the ferry, peering through the dense fog.
The Island team had some coppicing they wanted some help with at Eaglehead & Bloodstone, a stunning woodland reserve, predominated by Hazel and Ash. So Steve and I took up their kind offer to wield some chainsaws and have a brief look around one of the Trusts island reserves.
Our task for the day was coppicing large Hazel and Ash stools (multiple tree stems grouped together from one point). A lot of these stools had become very large and overstood, which basically meant the stools were at risk of pulling themselves apart due to the shear weight of each of the stems.
Coppicing may look destructive, particularly when taking down large ash trees, but this process actually extends the life of the trees. In some cases coppice stools can live for hundreds of years with careful management and harvesting regimes. Coppicing rotations not only provide wood for a multitude of uses (peasticks, firewood, charcoal etc) but it’s a massively important process for enhancing nature conservation. Eaglehead and Bloodstone are particularly important for Bluebells, Red Squirrels and Dormice, which will all benefit from coppice rotation.
The coppice recovers very quickly, sending up new shoots a few feet high within the first year. This process massively benefits from one large mammal not being present on the island – Deer. So no need for labour intensive ways to guard tree shoots from these 4 legged nibblers as you would on the mainland.
It was great to meet up and work with the Island team (Jamie, Gareth, Duncan & Shaun) – big thanks for having us for the day.
I also made another timelapse of our time at Eaglehead, playing around with a borrowed (kindly from our Marine Team) Gopro camera. Again I still have some work to do to get them looking slick but its fun to see what you’ve created after letting the camera run all day. For those of you interested its made up of around 400 images, this time taken at 30sec intervals throughout the day.