Saturday, 12 October 2013

Making Space For Nature

Today we had an outdoor meeting with the wildlife explorers. We spent a cold grey the morning at Tophill Low nature reserve where the warden (our friend Richard) helped us to make a space for nature. First we spent some time in his workshop looking at the tools we would use (hand saws and lopers) and the safety equipment we would need (helmets and gloves) and we talked about what we were planning to do.

Richard wanted us to create a spce for nature - specifically he wanted us to create a clearing in a rather crowded Sycamore plantation. Cutting down trees might seem like the very opposite of practical conservation work but Richard explained to us that we needed to thin the plantation so that light could reach the woodland floor allowing the ground flora to re-establish itself next spring.
We chose an area of the plantation that had a 60 year old Oak, some Ash an Elder and a Hawthorne in it but which was mostly really dense Sycamore - a few cm to 20cm in diameter and between 3m and 8m tall. Richard showed us how to work out which way a tree "wanted to fall" and how to cut it so that it did. We worked hard for about 2 hours and cleared a really big area.
The trees that we cut down didn't go to waste. We piled them up to make another space for nature. We will come back in the spring to see what has moved in - Richard fully expects us to find a Wren nest there. Over post-fieldwork hot chocolate we talked about what we had done. Everyone enjoyed the morning - but the main theme that came out was that we were proud of what we had achieved.

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