To the wood to meet Petra Billings (Author and West Weald Landscape Project Officer for the Sussex Wildlife Trust), and Jim Smith-Wright, (Low Weald Ancient Woodland Restoration Officer for the Woodland Trust), representing a 5 year Lottery funded joint initiative which aims to encourage, advise, and where possible, offer support to small wood owners in the effective management of their woods. They were accompanied by Keith, a research volunteer for the Woodland Trust, and 'Bear', Jim's large and beautiful dog.
We spent almost 3 hours walking round 30 acres of Old Copse to see what progress has been made in 5 years and to discuss future plans, followed by refreshments at Old Copse HQ , (aka the log cabin).
We've gained a reasonably good idea of our approach to woodland management, and as we progress, we grow in confidence in what we hope to achieve. Our visitor's specialised knowledge was much appreciated, and we took note of further improvements they suggested such as: selective ring-barking of some Scots Pine for standing dead-wood; birch coppicing as we get to grips with thinning the birch ; improving bio-diversity on the Ride by mowing it during late August/early September each year, leaving a margin of longer grass at either side; advice on the placing and building of a wild-life pond near the cabin; We've also been promised some dormouse nesting tubes next Spring, to monitor any resident dormice.
Valuable as their practical and theoretical knowledge is, their link to what's happening in the wider woodland environment in terms of contacts, grants and initiatives, meetings and so on, is equally important.
'Thankyou for a thoroughly pleasant and interesting stroll around your woods, and in particular, tea in your idyllic log-cabin! Great to see woods being so well looked after and cared for.' (email from Jim).
Thankyou Jim and Petra.