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Pollarders in Action!

Posted: Friday 20th January 2017 by OutdoorLearning

SWT Community Learning course on Ashtead Common NNR

Surrey Wildlife Trust provides community learning in partnership with City of London Corporation on Ashtead Common National Nature Reserve.

It was a great day on the common and I learnt lots of new things about cutting trees... thanks!

On a frosty but sunny January morning I met an enthusiastic group of adult students at the Ashtead Estate Office near Leatherhead who were attending a community learning course about the reasons for cutting and pruning trees to benefit wildlife. Our hosts the City of London Corporation provided an excellent room for the indoor introduction about the biology and history of cutting trees in Surrey.

After this presentation and brief discussion I took students onto Ashtead Common NNR where they had an opportunity to apply their learning and acquire new practical skills for cutting trees effectively and safely using hand tools. We were able to prune willows pollards that I first cut when working as a ranger on Ashtead Common 20 years ago! The students also got to see the City of London rangers felling larger oak trees with chainsaws.

For those students who had never cut trees I was able to demonstrate the basic techniques for felling small trees so that they could practice their ‘gobs’ and ‘felling cuts’ safely on small tree stems. Working alongside the ranger team provided the opportunity to benefit from a hot fire to burn our brash cuttings and keep warm during lunch.

Head Ranger Andy Thwaites said: “Providing access to Ashtead Common for community learning meets one of the objectives for the National Nature Reserve whilst offering our employees and volunteers the opportunity to learn practical conservation skills. The City of London has been able to develop a closer working relationship with Surrey Wildlife Trust through this community learning programme.”

These practical courses are part of a wider programme of adult learning that in 2017 focuses on Outdoor Woodland Learning in Surrey (OWLS Project) as part of our HLF funded project at Nower Wood Education Centre. Details of further community and adult learning courses can be found on the Surrey Wildlife Trust website.

Paul Ritchie
Community Learning Coordinator, Surrey Wildlife Trust
01483 795478

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