Wild Skills: Coppicing

Our Wild Skills volunteering group for 13 -18 year olds meets once a month to carry out practical tasks around the nature reserve. Many of the members are working towards completing Duke of Edinburgh awards, and all have an interest in the natural world. This month the group went to Hambleton Wood to carry out some hazel coppicing.

A beautiful day to be working in the woods

A beautiful day to be working in the woods

Coppicing involves cutting back the hazel to as close to ground level as possible, and is a woodland management practice that goes back hundreds of years. Coppicing encourages new growth, and also opens up the woodland canopy allowing more light to reach the woodland floor. This allows ground flora to flourish, providing great habitat for woodland birds and food for pollinators. Starting this year, a different 0.5 hectare section of Hambleton Wood will be coppiced each year.

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Spending time working in the woods is a great way to notice wildlife you wouldn’t spot on a stroll – group member George found this tiny spider which had made it’s web in a piece of dead wood.

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Coppicing isn’t just good for wildlife – it is also a great way of raising money from the land. Our Wild Skills group sorted out the hazel they cut into piles – pea supports (to support growing sweet peas), bean poles (to support growing beans), binders and stakes (both used in hedge laying), all of which will be sold. Anything that wasn’t suitable for selling was burnt on the fire, which helped keep us warm on a chilly autumn day!

Getting the fire started

Getting the fire started

Thank you to all the Wild Skills members who took part this month, and to Reserves Officer Paul Trevor for providing us with the work!