Despite the weather forecast earlier in the week, we had a beautifully sunny, but cold, day on Cooper’s Hill. We were coppicing the woodland for Gloucestershire County Council.
Coppicing is a traditional woodland management technique. There is archaeological evidence for its use in the UK dating back almost 6000 years. The historical aim of coppicing is to produce materials for construction, countryside crafts and charcoal production. Periodic coppicing creates a variety of habitats for diverse flora and fauna – once just a side-effect, this is now one of the principal aims.
This area had been coppiced in the past, including by GVCV. It’s a popular task – one of the things I like most is that the effect of our work is dramatic and immediate.
We collected a considerable pile of materials that will be used by woodland schools to teach skills such as hedgelaying. It will also be made into fencing to protect the coppiced stumps. Any unusable material was burned.
As a follow-up to the task on 9th November 2014, seven GVCV volunteers returned to the Woodchester Valley on 4th January 2015 to continue clearing brash and logs alongside the National Trust volunteers and Max (the Ranger). The brash was left from clearance and thinning work done by contractors the previous winter in an area where the terrain made it difficult to work with large machinery.
Thankfully the weather was cool with light winds so we were able to have a highly productive day with two enormous bonfires and left a large cleared area that will be returned to pasture over the coming year or two.
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is undertaking a program of improvements at Robinswood Hill. We helped to clear part of the hill below the car park to make the area more attractive. GWT hopes to increase visitor numbers.
Five GVCV volunteers spent the day scrub bashing and made quite an impression. The before and after pictures show our progress, but also how much is still to be done!
We had a good fire too – always popular with the volunteers!
We spent a warm, late-September day on Stinchcombe Hill. The woodland is gradually creeping up the hill and taking over the limestone grassland, which is an important habitat for various flora and fauna, particularly butterflies and moths.
The dense scrub on the steep hillside cannot be cut mechanically. Our task was to cut back the hawthorn and brambles to the ground so that future regrowth can be kept in check using a brush cutter.
Five GVCV volunteers were joined by a couple of Stinchcombe Hill’s own volunteer group. Battling the thorns in the sunshine was hard-going but rewarding. We certainly made our mark on the hill!
You can find out more about Stinchcombe Hill Trust on their website.