Making sure the woods are safe for walkers is a key priority. During December to January, Nev and Paul do a tree safety survey of the woods. As part of the survey, they are identifying trees that are diseased, rotten, hung or dead. For example, bracket fungi growing on birch trees is an indication that the tree is already dead. Ash die back, a highly destructive disease in ash trees, is also a serious problem. There are many affected ash trees in the woods that we are monitoring, and which may require felling during 2022.
Leaving some standing dead trees and large diameter deadwood in the woods is important as they form an essential part of the habitat for many insects and animals. However, if a tree is a potential hazard – for example, if it’s in danger of falling onto a path or boundary line in the woods – then it will need to be felled. We also cut up some deadwood, particularly species regarded as non-native such as sycamore, to make wood fuel.
Generally, felling is something that Nev can undertake with the support of volunteers who have been trained in chainsaw use. However, if a tree is larger, or requires climbing in order to safely fell it (because individual branches have to be cut off before the tree is felled) then an external contractor might be involved.
We are always careful to check any trees identified for felling for living mammals such as bats. Central to our woods management plan is preserving and increasing biodiversity. Also, it is a wildlife crime to fell trees where bats are roosting.
Felled trees are then chopped by hand into firewood, which can be sold to help raise funds for the management of the woods.
If you would like to help with tree safety work, please check out our volunteering opportunities.