Having previously mentioned a recent project to regenerate hazel coppices in a neglected and over-grown swathe of sycamore woodland, it’s worth a very brief update. We returned to the wood yesterday to clear another five big trees in an attempt to let sunlight down to the under storey, and the great dripping monsters came tumbling down with a glorious crash. A deep, miserable fog had descended during the previous night, and there was an dank atmosphere of ice, rime and silence beneath the trees. Woodpigeons clattered away from the sound of the saw, and a stubble of bulbs revealed themselves at ankle-height to suggest that progress will soon be forthcoming.
The wood contains a large number of leggy, rather sad-looking hazel trees which are shaded out every year by the impenetrable sycamore canopy. By clearing a patch of big trees and cutting the hazels down to short stumps, it should be possible to stimulate some exciting growth, which in turns will surely yield some really interesting conservation benefits. Having written recently about roe bucks, it was interesting to see a really fine fellow walking on stiff legs through this wood at the end of last week. Deer should benefit from a more mixed woodland structure just as much as the red squirrels that this work was originally aimed at, and I am extremely excited by the potential this project has.