Stanway Ash Wood 15/11/2020

GVCV TASK 15 NOVEMBER 2020 – STANWAY ASH WOOD

On Sunday 15 November 2020 GVCV worked in Stanway Ash Wood, Tewksbury for FWAGSW, continuing an ongoing task of coppicing a Hazel grove.. See the report from out first session at this location GVCV TASK 01 DECEMBER 2019 – STANWAY ASH WOOD for an overview of the site and the task.

Our raised platform and bundled stems as at the end of previous session. Compare with the greatly increased volume in the team photo taken at the end of the current session.

A textbook example of a coppiced stool – well done the man / woman who produced this.

We try to make first timers especially welcome, though some of them look like old hands from the start, finding a comfortable seat at lunch time.

A classic example of a two man job – one working and one watching.

The small diameter stems we cut we harvested for use but the coppicing process meant we also had to take out the larger stems. These must be of use, though we were not told for what, so we stacked them neatly for others to process. We did however utilise them as a dry seating during lunch.

A possibly greater issue is the large amount of brash which we are producing. On many sites we burn the brash which disposes of it, keeps us warm on frosty days and allows us to offer baked potatoes for lunch. Fires however are not permitted on this site.

This shot shows that we are actually achieving a cleared space in the grove – we just need to achieve an awful lot more of it.

A great team photo. A set of fulfilled volunteers standing proudly beside their achievement, a nearly full containment of Hazel bundles.

Oat hill track, bredon hill, westmancote 15 november 2020

A return visit to this site, on Kemerton Estate land, where we have been removing certain trees and scrub from alongside a wild flower-rich verge. Much of the hawthorn and field maples were to be left on the line of an old wall.

Six valiant volunteers armed with loppers, bowsaws and shears made further headway into the task and now a fair strip of the verge is open to the sunlight and ready for the next growing season. We came across a large Crab Apple tree and tested the fruit – a little sharp but edible. This was left in situ along with plenty of berry bearing hawthorn and also some mistletoe that was packed with berries. Good for the winter thrushes and other birds.

Despite an odd shower the day was quite bright with good views towards the Avon Valley. We finished just in time as the rain became more persistent. still some left to do but we made3 good progress

Stanway ash wood 01/11/2020

GVCV TASK 01 NOVEMBER 2020 – STANWAY ASH WOOD

On Sunday 01 November 2020 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 continue the task we started last year, 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.

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.

The Hazel bundles being placed to reinforce a stream bank

Rather than leaving the bundles on the ground, where they would quickly degrade we constructed a raised platform on which to stack them during our earlier task. Our construction was of a lightly lesser standard than the bridge over the river Kwai but it did exactly what we wanted of it.

Not all of the bundles we had previously created had been used and the un-used remainder had fallen apart as we had tied them with garden twine which is intended to disintegrate over time. During this task we re-tied those bundles using bailer twine which is weatherproof and rotproof and, in this case, luminous yellow.

The bundles as we left them last time

The remaining bundles from the last time as we found them this time

The old bundles re-tied with bailer twine and ready for use again..

As we were working at some distance from our previous location we constructed another platform to receive our new product. We did it faster this time, practice making perfect, and populated it with our new bundles.

Proud owner of a heap of brash, by-product of the harvested stems

Cutting the stems as low down on the stool as possible. Tough on the knees. Note the colour co-ordinated top, wellies and gloves, fashion always being high on GVCV list of priorities.

We achieved quite a lot during the morning but shortly after lunch the heavens opened and we had a wet finish, which left us physically dampened but with enthusiasm unabated. Bring on the next task day here!

Oat Hill Track, Westmancote (Kemerton estate) 18 October 2020

Today we were working for the Kemerton Estate – an environmentally responsible farm and estate. Below Bredon Hill nr Westmancote removing small trees (except much of the Hawthorn and Field Maple as well as some Crab Apple/Wildings) and bramble that are encroaching on a wild flower-rich verge at the side of the Oat Hill track. We piled the cuttings into the nearby field in small piles so the estate can check for hedgehogs etc before burning the material. The aim is to increase the diversity of plants and maintain it as a verge. Still plenty more to do and hopefully we will return here next year.

starting
getting stuck in
opening up to allow light in
Stock piles
finished

Tewkesbury Nature Reserve 23rd August 2020

Today the group worked on the Orchard off Queen’s Road Tewkesbury. This is part of the larger Tewkesbury Nature Reserve(TNR) tewkesburynaturereserve.org.uk a natural floodplain of mostly grassland, grazed by sheep and cattle. There have been a few scrapes recently added to improve the biodiversity particularly for birds. The orchard is linked to the Priors Park Neighbourhood Project which includes allotments.

The work was to remove encroaching vegetation and create a wide path to the rear. Six of us took part and we were visited by a member of TNR who is responsible for volunteer work parties at the site. We managed to clear an area of mostly bramble and blackthorn that opened up the site and freed around some of the fruit trees planted here including plum. apple and pear giving more light and reducing competition. Compost heaps are also envisaged for the area to supply the next door allotments.

before we started
the work nearing completion
Work almost completed

A pleasant days work with good weather and keen volunteers and a satisfactory task completed

Quedgeley LNR 20/09/2020

Today the group visited Quedgeley reserve to reinstate the dead hedge by the pond (that had sadly been vandalised). The group (5 of us) were split between working by the pond and clearing plus weeding the hedge at main entrance to the reserve.

We used some wood that had been cut previously to make stakes and hammered these in to holes, making them very sturdy and hopefully difficult to uplift. then weaved in longer pieces to about 5 ft or so. Access is now round to the left rather than directly alongside edge of pond.

completed dead hedge by pond

The hedge at front also got a make-over with about a metre or two being strimmed and under hedge weeded of nettle and bindweed. We added several inches (or centimetres) of chippings to try and suppress the weeds. The hedge (planted a few years ago) is doing very well, only 5 more years or so and we can lay it.

removing bindweed
strimmed area by hedge

Farmcote, Winchcombe 01.03.2020

GVCV TASK 01 MARCH 2020 AT FARMCOTE, WINCHCOMBE

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.

GVCV TASK 01 DECEMBER 2019 – STANWAY ASH WOOD

GVCV TASK 01 DECEMBER 2019 – STANWAY ASH WOOD

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.