A Woodland Journeyman mini series: A case study of good practice in woodland management

If you’ve found it hard to get your head around why trees are felled or coppiced in woodlands, then this example of good practice in woodland management should help clear a few things up for you

Martin's Wood - Charcoal Burn by John Jewett

Woodland Journeyman, Jon Jewett, completed an apprenticeship with the Wildlife Trust last year. He has some really interesting and insightful views about woodland and wildlife that we felt would be of interest to readers.

In part one of this Woodland Journeyman mini series, Jon explained – based on what others have taught him – what happens when trees are planted and left unmanaged. Here in part two he shares a case study of best practice in woodland management on the Island. Ed


Martin’s Wood, a community woodland and now part of a Wildlife Trust’s rewilding project, received continued management from the start.

The grass was topped off by regular cutting until the saplings could get away.

Rides (a permanent unsurfaced access route through woodland) had been hewn out to allow for ground flora to flourish, attracting the insects, in turn attracting the birds and bats to rich hunting grounds.

Click on images to see larger versions and descriptions

Martin's Wood - Ride widening and path maintenance by John Jewett
Martin's Wood - One year regrowth on ride widening Martin's Wood by John Jewett

Scrapes have been hand dug to accommodate the wide variety of solitary mining bees that swarm the warm ground.

Martin's Wood - Hornet Mimic Hoverfly by John Jewett

Trees are thinned from their original planting to allow the strongest ones space to grow and develop.

Martin's Wood - Fly Agaric by John Jewett

Stimulating more vigorous regrowth
Hazel is coppiced to stimulate more vigorous regrowth, extending its life expectancy by 100 years if not more, and providing a denser stand for nesting birds and dormice to inhabit (the little rodents play a constant game of “the floor is made of lava”).

Firestone Copse - Hazel coppiced stool - by John Jewett
Firestone Copse - Hazel Coppicing by John Jewett
Martin's Wood - Coppiced Material, stakes, binders, pea sticks, bean poles, fire wood by John Jewett

And trees are felled to provide a variation in age, allowing for a greater uptake in carbon and resilience to pests and diseases.

Fence Maintenance by John Jewett
Fence Maintenance and 1 year regrowth by John Jewett

Minimising disturbance to dormant habitat
This work is carried out in the winter months to minimise disturbance to dormant habitats, all before the mating season starts and little nests get built, unless you’re a pigeon, then any time is mating time.

Watervole Tracks by John Jewett

The material that is harvested can then be made into things, locking up that captured carbon until they’re burnt or rot away. In turn paying for the work hours and fuel required to replicate nature.

Martin's Wood - Lichen Ball by John Jewett

Successful management can at times be controversial
As Britain plants more and more trees please be aware that their successful management can at times be controversial and disheartening, requiring axe and chainsaw to assist it on its way.

Martin's Wood Chainsaw Assessment by John Jewett

I really would like to leave nature alone and let it do its thing, but there’s just not enough of it left for a successful speedy recovery to happen.

And so I cut down trees to save the planet, I’m an oxymoron until the wild things return.

Martin's Wood - One year regrowth on coppiced hazel coupe by John Jewett

You can find out more about Martins Wood and the Newchurch Moors Nature Reserve by visiting the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust Website.


Look out for part three in the Woodland Journeyman’s mini-series, where Jon helps us understand the impact of Ash Die Back on the Island. Ed

Opinion Piece

Sunday, 21st February, 2021 3:19pm

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8 Comments on "A Woodland Journeyman mini series: A case study of good practice in woodland management"

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waspman

That’s a hoverfly Tamara – Volucella zonaria. It’s larvae develop in wasps nests. You are right about the decline in solitary bees at Martins Wood – which has happened as the trees have become more mature and are shading parts of the site.

Tamara

Thank you, waspman. When you say the larvae develop in wasps’ nests, do you mean that the wasps are tricked into feeding the hoverfly larvae because they mistake them for their own, or does this hoverfly lay its eggs in the wasps’ nest so that its larvae hatch out before the wasps’ larvae and feed on them?

jonj
I think waspman knows more on the habits of the hornet mimic hoverfly than myself. I mainly know that they look scary but pretty harmless. An interesting bit of evolution. In regards to the mining bees we have to ask what conditions do they prefer? How did they evolve this interesting skill of burrowing into the ground? Naturally bear ground doesn’t stay bear for long (unless under… Read more »
jonj

* bare

Tamara

Very interesting report and photos, Jon – what species of bee is that, and whose are those fine footprints?

Martin’s Wood’s exposed sandy soil used to attract a great diversity of solitary mining bees and wasps, but the woodland has shaded them out, so the rides and glades create important sun traps for them.

Sally Perry

As Waspman explains below, it’s a hoverfly. If you click into the images they all have descriptions.

Tamara

Ah! Thanks for pointing this out, Sally. The captions are a great help.

waspman

@ Tamara – the larvae live in the wasp nest where they scavenge food in the bottom of the nest, although they may also feed on abandoned wasp grubs.