Brandon Wood – Regenerating our Woodland

This Year’s Workplan 2012 -2013

The 20 year plan is to achieve our long-term aims for the benefit of the woodland ecology. This is what we are doing in the next few months and over the year ahead.

Why?
To promote tree health and prevent spread of tree disease
To encourage re-growth of the woodland floor
To encourage biodiversity – butterflies, wildflowers, wildlife
To have more broadleaf trees – more oak, less pine
To follow the expert guidance on woodland management

What?
Thin 30% of conifers in areas where they are densely planted
Preserve specimen trees, plants and wildlife
Coppice areas to promote hazel – a food source for wildlife
Halo thin trees around specimen oaks to allow the oak to flourish
Allow regeneration of natural broadleaf species

How?
Thinning
Contractors will use forestry machinery with low impact tyres
This will restrict access to some areas
Halo thinning
Removal of trees surrounding specimen oaks
Work will be done by Friends of Brandon Wood Volunteers
Coppicing
Regeneration of hazel will also be done by our Volunteers

When?
The major thinning will happen from 8th October 2012 other work will be spread over the year ahead.

More information?
See our display at the Binley Woods Parish Plan Open Day at the Village Hall on Saturday 3rd November
Or contact one of the Trustees

Posted on behalf of the Friends of Brandon Wood

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6 Comments to “Brandon Wood – Regenerating our Woodland”

  1. I lived in Binley Woods for 14 years and as a mother of two children and a dog owner it was an absolute joy to have access to Brandon Wood in all seasons. Lovely walks, peace and quiet, vistas of trees, swathes of bluebells etc. I was delighted to hear that the village had taken over ownership of the woodland because I knew it would remain in safe hands. A wonderful opportunity for the preservation of a green space to be used and enjoyed by all members of a community.

    I was therefore horrified to walk there with a friend in early spring of this year and see the devastation that has been and is continuing to be wrought in this well loved woodland. Perhaps on the advice of the Forestry Commission? a huge area (basically a fire break) had sliced through the wood and all pine trees removed for timber. Brambles and nettles were springing up in this new found source of light and the loss of bluebells was observable. A few oddly shaped oaks had been allowed to remain .Friends of the woodland now kitted out with chain saws were continuing the destruction and were feeding numerous silver birch trees into a machine to reduce them to rubble. Apparently there was no replanting programme.

    The action plan outlined for the continuing ‘management’ of this woodland seems to suggest that the timber from the pines will continue to be plundered even though it is known that these are the very trees necessary for the recolonisation of red squirrels in Warwickshire. Warwickshire now has just 5% woodland cover and it is essential that we protect our trees and maintain the character of our green spaces.

    It would seem that some present advice from ‘experts’ on woodland management is questionable and needs careful review in the light of the expectations of the community who now own these lovely woodlands. There should be more consultation and information given before contractors with forestry machinery are allowed to continue the destruction. Perhaps other experts should be sought to give advice ?- The Woodland Trust might be a very good place to start

  2. From Trustees of Friends of Brandon Wood

    We all seem to want something different from our wood and have different views about how to go about achieving it and as the Trustees of the wood, we try to reconcile all the different views.
    Perhaps most people would agree that we should chop down dangerous trees, cut back branches overhanging footpaths, maintain paths, have bridges across ditches and streams and erect barriers to stop motorcycles. But how much more should be done to “manage” the wood? Would it be better to let it alone so that nature follows its own course regardless, or ought we to try to change that, either to enhance the amenities for users (benches adjacent to all the paths for example) or to enhance the habitat for animals and plants in the wood? The activities of people using the wood and the well being of wildlife living in it, often conflict.
    English woodlands have been managed for centuries, particularly with coppicing for hazel, a process the Trustees are already recreating in our Wood and are extending in the current programme. We have also been opening up glades allowing more light to get to the forest floor to encourage the growth of wildflowers and provide a habitat for butterflies. We have also developed ponds to support a variety of wildlife.
    Some areas of the wood are currently so densely populated with pines though that no light gets through and no shrubs or flowers can survive. The thinning of these trees will do nothing but good in the long run.
    There is an important national initiative to restore the natural types of trees on ancient woodland sites such as Brandon Wood. In the 1930s and the immediate post war years many such areas were re-planted with conifers which were not native to the area. Some 40% of ancient semi-natural woodland was converted into plantations. Interest in the restoration of these areas to their natural state began in the 1980s and the UK Biodiversity Action plan has targets to achieve this. In line with this the Friends of Brandon Wood is pursuing a long term policy to reduce the extent of non-natural trees and shrubs and encourage the re-establishment of native species.
    We have considered this policy very carefully because we know that cutting down trees always creates a negative reaction. The “experts” we have listened to does include The Woodland Trust (see http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/why-woods-matter/restoring/Pages/restoring.aspx#.UGrjClEzN8F) as well as the Forestry Commission and in particular we specially commissioned a study by Middlemarch Environmental, the consultancy arm of Warwickshire Wildlife and one of the UK’s leading ecological consultancies.

  3. I put a brief comment in the wrong section earlier in the week, so now, having read the comments above, I would like to add another. I have walked regularly in Brandon Woods for many years, but it is only in the last few that I have ceased to enjoy the privilege. I wholeheartedly agree with Philippa Pountney about the destruction being caused in the name of woodland management and I would ask Mr Brassington where the evidence is that supports his claims for increased wildflowers and butterflies and why dense new undergrowth and piles of dead branches are an improvement on lovely glimses into the woodland. The so called glades have just produced dense brambles and ferns which there were already plenty of. The pines that have been removed have done the same with the loss of vast areas of beautiful Bluebells. (Some of the best displays in Warwickshire.) I wonder what increased wildlife is expected? And what about the lost habitat for wildlife that already existed?

    These woods can indeed manage themselves and have been doing so for a long time and yes very many people, certainly all my friends, would prefer to see just the the paths being maintained and perhaps the addition and maintenance of a few more benches. The whole appearance is being altered by the current action and I believe that many people preferred what was there before. Once removed it cannot be replaced. Woodland management in the past was not for the benefit of the woods, but for the wood industry. Times have changed.

    I was under the impression that these woods were now owned by members of the public and I really think that the trustees should not base their actions on any national advice but on what their members actually want from the woods that they own. I’ve read the notices that have been posted on the gates recently detailing what action is planned, perhaps the membership should be widely consulted as to whether they agree with the proposed action before it begins.

  4. I fully support what Ann and Phillipa have said. The fact that heavy machinery has been used to thin out is a big mistake. Also to thin at the rate that has been done in these selected areas in most cases taking out the broad leaves and leaving large conifers has led to an under story of brambles developing,wiping out all other flora and making the area rutted and very unattractive for years to come. A better way would have been to slowly thin out areas to let in more light. allow the felled trees to rot, introducing fungi insects and flowers. As it is you are alienating the people that like to walk in the woods and driving away the animals that would like to live there. If this program is to continue for twenty years I hate to think what a mess it will be after that time. A moor perhaps!!! or a motorcycle circuit!!!

  5. Hello, I would like to add to the detailed comments expressing dissent over the way in which the declared objectives of the Committee are to be achieved. My interest is as a member of the Coventry Tree Group, and though not a resident in the immediate locality around Brandon Wood, I have visited on a number of occasions and find the action being taken as unnecessarily destructive to the established ecosystems in the wood.
    While I largely agree with the declared objectives of re-instating indigenous broad-leaf species, my sentiment is that largescale extraction of the established conifer plantations is not necessary and is in consequence gratuitously destructive of these existing bio-systems (artificially-planted though they may be).
    A far more benign and constructive approach, in my opinion, would be a policy of ‘additive transition’ in which existing planting space where under-storey is sparse should be used for planting up with selected indigenous broad-leaves, with existing established conifers left to continue their natural life.
    While such a transition will naturally take a much longer time, it scores heavily when aiming for minimally-invasive intervention and attendant damage (damage which itself can take months/years to correct, if at all). It also automatically boosts the biodiversity count, if that is viewed as desirable, while of coursea policy of extraction will deplete the biodiversity count.
    This is not new knowledge/experience which I describe – please let us take it on board fully, and act on its pretext and sentiment.

    Thankyou for your attention,

    T Billington

  6. No one would argue with the policy of slowly helping Brandon Wood to revert to its original state as an ancient natural woodland but the timescale is wrong. Unfortunately, the trustees of this wood have been persuaded and funded by Forestry Commission to embark on a programme of management that is both rapid and destructive . Hundreds of trunks have been removed by huge forestry machinery with branches and leaves spewed all over the woodland floor.There are now deep ruts across water courses and obvious damage to the fragile ecosystems of the woodland. Brambles are everywhere and it will be interesting to see how many bluebells have survived this onslaught as Spring gets underway. Sadly, there are plans to continue with this destructive action plan year on year.

    The pines in Brandon woods were planted by Forestry Commission in the last century so could possibly be described as an ethical and sustainable source of timber. Forestry Commission also says that these pines have about 100 years of life left, so trustees could decide that better practice would be to remove a few trees each year and give everyone time to study the effect and impact on the woodland, regeneration etc.

    Forests and woodlands are complete ecosystems. Like mountains, heathland, moor and coastal regions they are self regenerating and balanced systems. Trees are self thinning and the strongest live the longest. Brandon Wood is a healthy mixed woodland that provides excellent habitats for a large number of wildlife. It is untrue to say that woodlands have always been managed and it would seem that the encouragement by Forestry Commission to view this woodland as a business opportunity through the rapid harvesting of timber is possibly a commercial interest disguised as sound woodland management.

    As a Forestry Commission representative commented to myself and a group of concerned walkers shortly before Christmas ‘People will just have to get used to the sound of chainsaws’. Well, I certainly hope not, – but let’s remember that it is Forestry Commission that supplies felling licenses and in other local woodlands they have also approved and encouraged schemes for the removal of mature hardwood trees (oaks etc) as a good saleable product, a money making opportunity. Trees that were centuries old have been felled – and all in the name of woodland management!

    Warwickshire now has just 7% of woodland cover and this is very fragmented. Whole stretches of hedgerow are being grubbed out or cut so low that the trees within them are destroyed. Wildlife are losing these ‘green corridors’ that enable them to travel from one area of woodland to another and now the safe haven that our woodlands have always offered are themselves suffering interference which threatens habitats.

    Perhaps, looking towards a future which includes the possible impending loss of millions of ash trees, we should be considering the value of every mature tree in every context before agreeing to its removal

    Can we perhaps ask the Friends Of Brandon Wood to slow down, and carefully review future mangement of this well loved green space?

    Pip Pountney

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