2019.12.01 STANWAY ASH WOOD – copicing Hazel


On Sunday 01 December 2019 GVCV worked in Stanway Ash Wood, Tewksbury for FWAGSW.

The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAGSW) is a registered charity representing the region’s farmers and landowners in the delivery of wildlife conservation. They are part funded by Natural England and work with partner conservation organizations including the Wildlife Trust. In Gloucestershire they are heavily involved in Water with Integrated Local Delivery (WILD) projects restoring ditches, streams and rivers to aid the currently failing ecology and fish populations.

Our specific task that day was to make a start on coppicing an area of the hazel, which had not been done for some 40 years previously. Specific birds, insects and mammals depend on young hazel and left untended the stems grow into substantial trees, producing a changed habitat, so regular coppicing is required to maintain the existing ecology.

Our starting point – the Hazel of various ages and sizes

The hazel we harvested will be used in the FWAGSW waterway restoration projects. We cut the stems into 5 foot lengths and tied them into manageable bundles. These bundles will next year be taken and fixed as reinforcement for the banks of waterways to help prevent erosion (another task for GVCV ?)

Tying the cut lengths into bundles

Hazel bundles being placed to reinforce a stream bank (another group)

Tea break – the best time of the day

Rather than just leaving the bundles on the ground, where they would quickly degrade we constructed a raised platform on which to stack them. Our construction was of a lightly lesser standard than the bridge over the river Kwai but it did exactly what we wanted of it. Looking forward we made the platform large enough to take the product of another 2 or 3 tasks.

Our bundles of Hazel neatly stacked

The weather was kind to us, cold and dry with bright sunshine and we were able to look back at the end of the day at a tangible outcome rather than the blank space we normally leave after a hard day clearing scrub etc.

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