Work completed in the nick of time

The last piece of conservation work undertaken by Northumberland Wildlife Trust before travel restrictions were put in place was at its Juliet’s Wood reserve, 1km north of Slaley Village.

Juliet's Wood - Duncan Hoyle

Juliet’s Wood. Image by:Duncan Hoyle.

A team of estates volunteers and officers from the wildlife charity, managed, just in the nick of time, to install the last of the protection around this year’s coppiced trees on the site – just as well as the resident deer and hares are particularly partial to nibbling the fresh growth from the coppice stumps.

Coppicing is a procedure whereby trees are cut back periodically to stimulate new growth through dormant buds on the tree stump which is still living.

Without protection, all the fresh growth would likely be eaten and the trees, planted around 10 years ago, would either die or struggle to produce vigorous growth in the coming years.

With protection they will hopefully coppice well – some freshly coppiced trees can put on over 1m of new growth in the first year and after the 2nd year, when the buds may be out of the reach of the deer, the team will hopefully be able to remove the protection and use it on other trees.

Traditional coppice systems either fence off whole areas to protect the coppice stumps or use individual woven wooden protection, however fencing off wasn’t feasible as the reserve has footpaths and animal tracks running through it, so instead, the team protected the coppice stumps with individual wire enclosures which it will reuse in future years.

The wire was donated by the Ponteland Wildlife Group.

Talking about the race against time to complete the work, Duncan Hoyle, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Estates Officer said: “We had an inkling that travel restrictions would be introduced, so it really was imperative that we completed the work. It’s all credit to the volunteers worked tirelessly on the site as nobody knows when we will be able to return to it.”

“Our hammering in of the stakes was often accompanied by the hammering of a greater spotted woodpecker in a nearby tree, and at lunchtime we were treated to a fly-by from 5 buzzards just about the tree tops. Who says nature can’t lift the spirits?”

Situated 1km north of Slaley Village, Juliet’s Wood is made up of two areas of ancient semi-natural woodland which hosts an array of birds and mammals including barn, tawny and little owls, wood warblers, tree creepers, badgers, roe deer, stoats and weasels.

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