Bradwell Wood, Fowlea Brook

Habitat(s) to be improved Watercourse, Wetland, Woodland

Lead Organisation Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Site Area Fowlea Brook

About The Site

Bradwell Wood is a large semi-natural broad-leaved woodland site in the north of urban Newcastle-under-Lyme, located between two major roads, the A34 and the A500. The woodland is publicly accessible and is traversed by several well-used footpaths creating an important feature locally. The site is located on the headwaters of the Fowlea Brook and is arguably the most ‘natural’ section of the watercourse as a whole.

The woodland itself is relatively uniform in age and structure, mainly comprised of frequent Silver Birch (Betula pendula) and occasional Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur), some specimens of which appear to be more mature. The field layer is reasonably diverse in parts but largely dominated by species such as Bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.) and Common Nettle (Urtica dioica) (a full species list can be found in Appendix 2). Silver Birch in many areas has formed very dense thickets, where there are numerous trees growing in close proximity to one another, which is shading out other vegetation.

The headwaters of the Fowlea Brook flowing through the northern section of the site occur in steep-sided channels, which are fairly uniform and heavily wooded. The habitat alongside the watercourses are characteristic of wet woodland. The brook carries a high load of silt which in some areas is being naturally intercepted temporarily by build-up of woody material in the channel, in turn this has led to heavy silt build up in the two large pools. Sedimentation has led to a decreased water depth in the pools and marginal vegetation is beginning to encroach into the centre of the western pool, however the eastern pool has relatively little marginal vegetation.

Original Work Plan

  • Thinning and/or coppicing of Silver Birch (Betula pendula) to provide more mature Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur) with space to grow.
  • Creation and management of rides and glades through selective thinning.
  • Possibility of improving diversity in the woodland field layer by introducing native wildflower seed or plug plants from an appropriate sustainable source.
  • Installation of woody debris into the watercourses to diversify flow patterns and attempt to trap some of the sediments before reaching the pools and the downstream parts of the Fowlea Brook.
  • Rotational coppicing and/or thinning of trees along the brook corridor to diversify light/shade regime.

Work Carried out to date:

  • A felling License is being procured so woodland managment works can take place Winter 2020.

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