Cut­backs that keep our wood­lands wild

NA­TURE’S WAY: Cop­pic­ing pro­vides a wide variety of an­i­mals with suit­able habi­tats

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - COUNTRYFILE - by Mike Ben­nett

KEN­TISH Stour Coun­try­side Project con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers were out last week car­ry­ing out a tra­di­tional form of wood­land man­age­ment, cop­pic­ing in a small wood­land near Old Wives Lees. They were work­ing in the fiveacre Gorewell Wood, which has been man­aged with the help of the KSCP and its vol­un­teers since 1993. Cop­pice woods are one of the most di­verse types of wood­land and for­tu­nately there are still many in Kent, al­though due to a de­cline in the mar­kets for cop­pice ma­te­rial, many are now be­ing ne­glected. The wood near Chil­ham is home to a large num­ber of plants and an­i­mals, one of the most no­table is the dor­mouse. A rare and very small mouse, which is about 7cm long, it weighs about the same as two £1 coins. It is a pro­tected species and a li­cence is needed to dis­turb or han­dle it. Fif­teen vol­un­teers from KSCP were cop­pic­ing, which in­volves cut­ting small trees like hazel to a few cen­time­tres above ground level. The method is usu­ally un­der­taken on a ro­ta­tion, which means that there are al­ways ar­eas of the wood at dif­fer­ent stages of growth and that is what leads to cop­pice wood­lands be­ing so di­verse. Matt Hayes from KSCP said: “Cop­pice wood­lands are beau­ti­ful places es­pe­cially in spring when ev­ery­thing comes to life.” Some of the ma­te­ri­als cut will be used for hedge lay­ing this week. Vol­un­teer tasks are car­ried out ev­ery Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day and oc­ca­sional week­ends.

Cop­pice wood­lands are beau­ti­ful places, es­pe­cially in spring

Any­one in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing or who would like any more in­for­ma­tion about the KSCP should visit www.ken­tish­s­ or phone 01233 813307 or e-mail ken­tish­s­

The dor­mouse is one of our small­est and rarest mice

Blue­bells in Gorewell Wood, Old Wives Lees, which is man­aged by the Ken­tish Stour Coun­try­side project

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