Conservation Working Party Report

Thank you to everyone who came along to join our Conservation Working Party on 13th December 2020.  The weather was much kinder than predicted and a great deal was achieved.

We were recently given permission from WBC to work in two areas of the woodland and this is thanks to the support of a professional arboriculturist, who is acting as our agent and giving professional advice.  We are also incredibly lucky to have the help of Steve Loyd, who has manged Ruscombe woods for many years.  Steve is very knowledgeable about the use of traditional hand tools and managing native woodland for the benefit of nature.

We began our session with a quick introduction, confirming that everyone was aware of the risk assessments, and had submitted emergency contact details.  Some tool instruction was given, and we then dispersed to different sections of the area to be worked. 

One group tackled the Rhododendron, and a good section was reduced to ground level.  This non-native invasive species blocks light, and our long-term aim is to increase the range of habitats and biodiversity in the woodland.  The best option for removing Rhododendron is to burn it or use a chemical plant killer.  Neither of these options were open to us, so it was decided to use the brash in our dead hedges.  Dead hedges create natural barriers to protect areas from too much footfall and provide a valuable habitat for invertebrates and small mammals.

A second group edged pathways by pegging in the logs to reduce the risk of rolling, and a third group constructed the framework for the hedge.   At 11.30 we stopped for a break, and to review the progress made, after which it was all hands on deck to move the brash and trunks of Rhododendron to the dead hedge area.  Other tasks included planting native bluebells and moving dead wood where it was restricting the growth of living trees.  Most of the dead wood was left in place as it provides another valuable habitat.