Last year the 21ha felled larch (SPHN) area was surveyed for: soils and drainage; how many trees remain which can be left to grow on to fill spaces; natural regeneration of desirable tree species such as oak and holly; rhododendon regrowth; and how much we think we can plant with community help this planting season and what should be left for following years. Also, an area suitable for a new Redwood/Sequoia Grove has been identified higher up the hill for planting probably next year.
The priority for the spring 2024 planting season (February through to April) is preparing the area from Linda’s path running up 7 Winds Path for planting and then carrying out the planting itself – about 1850 new trees in 1.5ham – And also prepare the ground for the remaining 2.5- 3ha priority replanting area.
We took a professional Foresters advice in the summer, who recommended that we should carry out enough mechanical ground preparation to make the replanting easier and as successful as possible, whilst also clearing back some of the larch brash (which has to remain on site) and rhody regeneration which hinders easy movement across the area for woodland users and planters alike and looks unsightly from the main footpaths.
Later in January, a specialist contractor in forestry ground preparation will come in for about a week with a low ground pressure mechanical excavator and various grabs/buckets/rakes attachments on behalf of CCDT to-
- Cut and move most of the felled drey larch trees away from paths to a more accessible location near the extraction route;
- Rake the brash away from the main paths and chainsaw sculptures in to low heaps to leave or control burn (especially for rhododendron which has a toxic effect on the soil if left);
- Crush smaller brash with the excavator tracks which should help to make the area more accessible on foot;
- Tidy up ruts left over from the previous felling extraction whilst improving a track/route for future woodland management;
- Create planting positions about 2.5m apart with “hinged mounds”- inverted shallow turves/soil about 250mm high and 600mm long and 400mm wide into which we can plant the new trees and which will remain vegetation and weed-free for a year or so to help the new trees establish with less competition from existing vegetation. The rest of the ground vegetation including flowers etc will be left to grow as usual. The contractor will start at the lower end (near the sheds entrance) and work up the hill past the Badger and then Frog and Owl/Pine Marten, towards the CCDT land boundary.
- The contractor will enter from the woodland base/stacking area near the walled garden, and move along the previous extraction route to the felled area. Part of this is shared with tracks (former timber extraction route) also used regularly by the community, so signage will be in place along this stretch and excavator movement will be at each end of the day and quite slow and vehicle lights likely to be used.
- Whilst on site, it is also possible that the excavator will be used to improve the water drainage in the woodland behind the residential boundary east of the sheds entrance, which has at times caused issues for nearby neighbours over the past number of years after heavy rainfall.
- The work will be regularly monitored by members of the woodland group while it is taking place, and any questions, comments or concerns can be reported via woodlands@CCDT.org.uk or to any trustee.
- The contractor is appropriately insured and competence-certificated and is a member of Forest Accord and will be working under a risk assessment and method statement.
We aim to give 2 weeks notice on the CCDT facebook page and website of the ground preparation work, and will also put notices up just before the work starts and then will be signed during the work at the work site itself. The majority of the access route will be unaffected by the work and will be unobstructed except for very short periods, e.g. when the machine crosses footpaths etc.