Coppicing at Cooper’s Hill

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.

Before
Before

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.

Cutting down the previously coppiced trees
Cutting down the previously coppiced trees

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'd already made lots of progress by lunchtime
We’d already made lots of progress by lunchtime

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.

A rich harvest
A rich harvest

Clearing Brash in the Woodchester Valley

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.

Woodchester_4Jan2015

Thorn cutting on Haresfield Beacon

The National Trust wanted us to cut down some areas of hawthorn and bramble to open up the site and prevent the thorn taking over. 6 of us worked with Tim (the warden).

Continuing from where we left off 2 weeks ago:
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And tackling a new area:
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Although there is still much work for Tim to manage this site, much progress was done by the end of the day:
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We enjoyed a fantastic sunset!
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To keep the area clean and tidy, we burned what we cut. The bonfire got very hot by the end of the day!
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Robinswood Hill

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.

Robinswood Hill - before our task
Before

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!

Robinswood Hill - after our task
After

We had a good fire too – always popular with the volunteers!

Robinswood Hill - bonfire
Burning the scrub

Stinchcombe Hill

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.

A nice spot for lunch!
A nice spot for lunch!

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.