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We would like to thank all those who have given support to this project from the local community, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Pond Conservation Trust, Alvecote and Shuttington Parish Council, Maurice Arnold, and all the contractors and friends, family and volunteers who have worked on the site and given us advice and support.

We are developing Alvecote Wood according to our Woodland Management Plan that has been agreed with and grant-aided by the Forestry Commission under the English Woodland Grant Scheme.

Are you another woodland owner needing advice? Would you like to read our Tree Safety Policy?

Trees at Alvecote Wood

Roadside tree surgery at Alvecote Wood

Tree surgery in progress

Tree management at Alvecote Wood is still in its infancy, but we have already undertaken quite a lot of work to improve the lot of trees on the site

Tree Surgery

Trees at Alvecote Wood extend about 200 metres along the side of a relatively narrow road, frequently used by commercial traffic from small industrial units, agricultural traffic, local traffic and visitors to the local nature reserves, and to Alvecote Priory and Alvecote Marina. These trees had not been maintained for several years, so it was a priority task to ensure that these were made safe for passing traffic. After obtaining the required Tree Preservation Order Works to Protected Trees permission, tree surgery was carried out by a qualified tree surgeon to remove dangerous and low branches or branches that were obscuring the view for traffic. Some small bushes that were encroaching on the road were also trimmed back, together with the small length of existing hedgerow.

Hedgerow planting

Planting a new hedge at Alvecote Wood

Planting the new hedge

Existing hedgerow along the southern boundary is owned by the farm to our south. However we did have a small length of hedgerow on the south west border, and wished to extend this to enhance the habitat. In 2009, a group of hardy volunteers turned out, even in light snow, to plant 600 small trees. We selected native species already found on site (blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, dog rose, field maple) and added some spindle on the advice of other conservation experts. All little trees were staked and provided with spiral guards to prevent damage by deer and rabbits.

Unfortunately 24 of these trees were stolen, complete with their canes, but these have since been replaced.

Surplus trees were planted as thickets to provide new habitat, and to shield the building from view from the road and adjacent farm, thus improving the appearance of the site.

Sapling transplantation

Moving an oak sapling at Alvecote Wood

Using a digger to move a sapling

During the development works, we were advised to fell 13 oak saplings that were in the way. We did not want to do this, and felt that the saplings should be given a chance to develop elsewhere by transplantation. There are also some saplings growing too close together - we would prefer to use these saplings if they can be successfully transplanted to other areas where regeneration has not occurred.

We transplanted all 13 of these saplings during 2008. We fear that not all have survived, but approximately half of them have, and therefore this was a successful operation, since otherwise all of them would have been lost.

Freeing saplings from bramble overgrowth

Overgrowth of brambles at Alvecote Wood

Tall brambles choking oak
saplings

Saplings all over the wood were becoming overwhelmed by fast-growing brambles. Some were weighed-down with their branches being pulled down to the floor. Some were almost invisible among bramble clumps until they were mown back.

During 2008 and 2009 we have made a large effort to try and free saplings, particularly oak saplings, by removing brambles from the surrounding area. This is often a multi-stage process: First of all the tractor and rotary slasher have to be used to make a path to the sapling. However we have to stop the tractor short of the tree to ensure no damage results. Then a brush-cutter or hand loppers are used to cut a swathe through the brambles around the tree itself. Finally, hand loppers and secateurs have to be used to free the bramble fronds completely from the tree and cut the brambles back so that they can be managed by mowing in future. It can take all day to free one or two trees, so it is a slow process, but trees freed the previous year are already showing vigorous growth and it is evidently worth all the effort.

Clearance of non-native trees

Sycamore has been cleared from the south of the site and the drainage ditch into which it was spreading. A mature sycamore on site has been allowed to remain, but continued vigilance for seedlings will need to be maintained.

Coppicing

Wood piles and coppice area

Coppicing operations at Alvecote Wood

Left un-managed, areas of Alvecote Wood have developed where young trees are growing too close together. This has led to areas of poor quality trees, with no under-storey or scrub layer, and no ground layer - an improverished habitat for wildlife. In these areas, we are coppicing, which means cutting most of the trees back to ground level. This allows them to sprout again, providing dense under-storey and a much richer habitat for wildlife. Cutting takes place on a rotation of between 5 and 12 years, providing a crop of wood, as well as a good habitat. Selection of a few trees to become standards gives them a much better chance of developing to maturity, and also ensures that the trees are of variable age, rather than the same age as at present. Trees of the same age are vulnerable to dying at around the same time, leaving large areas bare of trees. A rotation aims to prevent this happening.