March 2024 - Field Trip to Leigh Woods
We had a great walk around Leigh Woods at the beginning of March, the forecast heavy rain and wind just ended up as a light drizzle. We were met by Sian, the Community Ranger, who was excellent at explaining how Forestry England managed the woodland for forestry, ecology and recreation.
We discovered how forestry harvesting works, the new coppicing project (linked to dormouse habitats) and the ongoing Whitebeam project. Then we had a guided tour!
The group meeting where Sian explained the 10-year forest plan
Map of the various actions needed as part of the plan
Felling of diseased trees usually takes place in the colder months so walkers and cyclists are not too inconvenienced when the big machinery arrives. Their roots are not usually removed so regrowth can take place. The wood is used either on-site (smaller branches) or sent off for recycling as wooden products, so nothing is wasted. When tree roots have to be removed, for instance trees of non-native conifers and red oak, the replacement trees are usually local whitebeam, lime or cherry.
Diseased tree marked for felling
The group and the tree felling "beast"!

Coppicing takes place on different sites each year, as minibeasts, fungi and plants have their own particular preference of maturity of re-growth. This includes leaving brambles, as the dormice prefer hibernating on the ground and the brambles offer protection from predators. 

A coppiced area from 2023/24
Previously coppiced trees when deer roamed free.
They had to be cut higher up or the deer would eat all the regrowth. 

This Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) has proved to be a green haven for many Bristolians, and  the 10-year forest plan looks set to return this woodland back to nature too.

Liz Wintle

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Avon Wildlife Trust
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