Winter 2018/19 – Woodland Management

Winter 2018/19 – Woodland Management

March saw the conclusion of a large programme of woodland management undertaken by the ERDF SUNRISE project across three sites in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The changing seasons bring different different priorities to the SUNRISE Project work. Winter is the time for woodland management. Working closely with Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council’s Tree Officer and Landscape Manager a plan for woodland management was drawn up for three of the SUNRISE project sites in the Newcastle-under-Lyme area. These plans primarily looked at follow up management of plantation woodland but also included ride maintenance and dealing with some dangerous trees or those with the potential to become dangerous over time if left unmanaged.

Plantation woodland like these needs to have some management to allow it to reach its true potential for wildlife and biodiversity. In this case the work involved thinning to lower the density of the trees and allow more light to reach the woodland floor. The increased light reaching the woodland floor will encourage and allow plant species on the woodland flower, including flowers to grow which in turn supports more insects, which in turn support the species which feed on insects. In broad leaved species, which make up the vast majority of the trees on these sites, cutting the trees down to ground level does not kill the tree. They will regenerate from the stump resulting in fresh growth growing up beneath the main canopy – this diversifies the structure and age range of the woodland too resulting in a more diverse habitat and more nesting opportunities for a wider range of birds than may otherwise use the areas.

In this programme of work we also catered for one specific species which is struggling in the area – Willow Tit. A few portions of the woodland border on wetland areas and in winter are occasionally flooded themselves. This damp woodland is prime habitat for the Willow Tit so we used the work taking place to create “nesting stumps”; Willow Tits excavate a nest hole from a rotting tree, usually birch, so some of the birch trees were felled at approx chest height in the hope that in a few years time they may provide a prime nesting opportunity for this species.

Next winter will see more woodland management work take place across the SUNRISE project area with updates to the plans being posted here for those interested.

 

A footpath through plantation woodland before the woodland management work.

 

The same footpath (viewed from a different vantage point) after the woodland management work. A more open canopy will allow more light down to ground level, enabling more ground flora to grow in the woodland.