The winter is when most of our woodland management activities take place so it seems like a good opportunity to give you some insight into what we get up to when the yurts are hibernating.
With 7 acres of woodland to bring back into management Seb didn't need much persuading to realise his childhood dream of being a professional tree climber. Last year he packed himself off to Easton College to get fully trained up in tree surgery. He's now qualified to use a chain saw while swinging from the treetops. Eeeeekkkkkk!
Our aim is to have woods that are a good home for wildlife which involves a range of approaches.
Coppicing involves cutting the tree down to the stump to allow new shoots to grow from the same stump. It is a technique which periodically allows light to reach the woodland floor which can be great for wildlife as well as wildflowers that have remained dormant due to constant shade. Winter coppicing of hazel trees usually happens in January & February when the trees are in hibernation and we don't risk disturbing nesting birds. Our predominantly hazel woodland is divided into 15 sections with 1 area being coppiced each year - a coppice rotation.
Here are some of the ways we use this wood:
- large trunks and branches are chopped and dried for use as firewood
- small branches and twigs are used for kindling
- lots of branches are set aside for campfires
- straight thin shoots are ideal for a natural hazel whip fence
- quirky branches are great for arches and and well positioned seating
- most of what's left is woodchipped for paths
It's a very sustainable way of harvesting resources from the woodland which brings wider benefits. Wildlife is attracted to a range of habitats and so by coppicing we open up a large area for creatures to move in. We've completed 3 years of coppicing now and it's great to see the new growth of the hazel trees and the difference the sunlight makes to the feel of each area. As the trees regrow the wildlife that called the newly coppiced areas home will move through the woodland to the next area. We've heard that the first years growth of a coppiced tree absorbs 9x more CO2 than a single stem tree. Pretty astonishing!
Oak trees need a spot of deadwooding every now and then which involves Seb hoisting himself up with a chainsaw in tow to make sure there aren't any hanging branches over the paths. Not a bad winter job, hey?
His climbing gear has also been pretty handy for making our super amazing tree swing! Can you spot Seb halfway up this gigantic tree?
We love the opportunity to spend lots of time in the woods - it's always a family affair with the boys getting involved. Elliot's mastered the use of snips and is getting quite efficient at cutting up twigs for kindling.
New Woodland Planting
This winter we're planting lots of native trees in the large meadow at the edge of our site (near where the bees and large pond are). These include a few varieties of willow and dog wood and guelder rose - 245 plants in total. We'll be planting more next year too and will lead paths through the new woodland. Don't worry though, we'll be leaving some nice open areas for our local barn owl to hunt in. We're looking forward to seeing how this meadow transforms.
We'll be adding some of our favorite days out to the blog soon - keep an eye out for these as they'll give you some tips when planning your Norfolk escape.