2020.03.01 Farmcote, Winchcombe – coppicing Cobnut trees


On Sunday 01 March 2020 GVCV worked on a farm at Farmcote, Winchcombe 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 allotted task that day was to make a start on coppicing a stand of hazel, which had not been previously done for a number of years. 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.

This particular hazel was of the Cobnut variety which appeared to have been planted for commercial cropping of the nuts. Cob nuts in the shops cost twice as much as hazel nuts! Cobnuts originate from Kent and are sometimes called Kentish nuts. Young nuts have a taste like coconut and a can be eaten on their own or added to salads or in baking. Mature nuts have a deeper, richer flavor and should be roasted then eaten with a little salt or added to a crumble topping or used to add “crunch” to any desert.

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 be taken and fixed as reinforcement for the banks of waterways to help prevent erosion

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.

Tea break – the best part of the morning. Beautifully straight spaced out rows of hazel behind.

Hard to concentrate on the task in front with such a fantastic landscape behind.

A happy team at the end of the day with our bundles of Hazel neatly stacked on the platform.

The weather was kind to us, cool, mostly dry and with periods of 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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