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Coppicing for conservation

Coppicing volunteers
Coppicing volunteers
Volunteers are coppicing areas of Gobions Woodland in order to promote the growth of native hazel and provide materials for further conservation work.

The coppicing - a traditional method of woodland management - also creates a habitat for wildlife, and encourages the growth of local flora.

The work is being supervised by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT), as part of an ongoing process of environmental improvements to the Gobions woodland area.

HMWT nature reserves officer, Rob Hopkins, who is supervising the coppicing, explained the importance of the project.

“Coppicing has been going on for hundreds of years, but in recent years it has almost died out. By cutting the hazel back, it grows stronger. The trunks, stems and branches that are cut are used to fence off the tree as it continues to grow."

The team of eight volunteers cut the hazel back to knee height. The long stems were then used as stakes in order to create a fence around the newly-coppiced tree. The top branches and twigs, known as the ‘brash’, were used to weave between the stakes to prevent Muntjac deer and other animals from damaging the new growth.

“The protective barrier also creates an ideal habitat for mammals and birds to make their homes. Without coppicing the hazel would die. With coppicing it thrives, and so does the flora growing beneath the trees," Rob Hopkins explained.

Below are some pictures of the volunteers, some willing and some less so.

Coppicing volunteers Coppicing volunteers
Coppicing volunteers Coppicing volunteers
Coppicing volunteers Coppicing volunteers
Coppicing volunteers Coppicing volunteers
Coppiced hazel Coppiced hazel
Coppiced hazel Coppiced hazel
Unwilling coppicing volunteers Unwilling coppicing volunteers
The volunteers spend a day a week working in Gobions. There are also work parties, arranged by Gobions Woodland Trust (GWT), that work in the woods every Sunday morning.

Anyone interested in joining either work party should contact either the HMWT or phone Iain Aitken on 01707 274494. You can discuss local conservation in this site's Forum

30 November 2007

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