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Ranger Notes: Shere Woodlands

Posted: Tuesday 31st March 2015 by Nature Notes

© Jon Hawkins

Shere Woodlands is a Local Nature Reserve group of three sites owned by Surrey County Council and managed under lease by Surrey Wildlife Trust for informal public access, nature conservation and sustainable timber production.

Shere Woodlands have been subject to a thorough inventory this year, which provides us with a detailed picture of tree size, shape, species and density across the site. Coupled with data on topography and access this will assist us in planning future woodland management in line with the UK Woodland Assurance Standard.

We will be in a better position to balance the viability and associated costs of woodland operations with the needs of certain species or habitats where lack of intervention might lead to ecological decline.

Certain operations are funded by an English Woodland Grant Scheme which ends in spring 2016. One such task is the coppicing of hazel and thinning of the surrounding canopy of ash, birch and beech in Combe Bottom. Subject to the final details being wrangled, this work will be carried out by staff, volunteers and contractors during the next two winters.

Elsewhere within West Hanger and Combe Bottom we have some unusually large whitebeam coppice stools and pollards. Little is known about veteran whitebeam, but it is thought the trees may have been cut at regular intervals to provide a source of hard, wear resistant wood; possibly for mill cogs in Gomshall. The act of repeated cutting can lead some trees to live far beyond their usual lifespan and as they hollow they provide conditions vital to rare invertebrates.

We are trying to release such old trees from shade before cutting the upper limbs in a bid to reduce instability and encourage new buds to burst out closer to the stool (coppiced trees) or bolling (pollards) and prolong life.

Our work to prepare the grazing enclosure for goats has been set back by the discovery that 115 of our fence posts (installed in 2009) have rotted! We hope to source sufficient sweet chestnut from supplies and replace the posts in 2015, as well as add electric wire to prevent goats burrowing or climbing to freedom.

Leo Jennings

Ranger, South Team

 

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