Barnston Hall Estate, Barnston Hall, Dunmow

Site Information

Grid Reference:

TL 64976 19638

Size:

26 hectares

Status:

SSSI

Habitats:

Lowland mixed deciduous woodland

Notable Species:

mice

Public Access:

Yes

Car Park:

Yes

Management Plan:


Planned Woodland Operations from November 2018

Track widening, Garnett's Wood

Tracks or "rides" may be used for walking, riding or cycling. When wide and light enough, they are also a really good habitat. Open space is highly valued in woodland, and the edges create a variety of microsites to be colonised by butterflies and nesting birds. Some tracks are to be opened up in Garnetts Wood, letting in light and energy, with edges will be maintained on a cutting system which encourages shrubbiness and wild flowers.

Prior to starting work, the area is surveyed for potential bat roots and other protected species’ habitat. This includes birds in the nesting season. If any are found, that section of the work is protected by a buffer zone and resumed at a later date.

Coppicing in Barnston Leys 

Part of the Barnston SSSI (Site of special scientific interest), this area has been valued as coppiced ancient woodland.  Coppicing is a historic management technique to produce firewood and timber, involving cutting “stools” or the previous growth, to ground level, so that they can re-shoot quickly.  Areas within a woodland block are coppiced on a fairly short cycle, so that there is an ongoing patchwork of different ages and heights of coppice and seedling regeneration, providing constant habitat for biodiversity.  Natural British flora and fauna have co-evolved with this system over thousands of years. 

Coppicing will be re introduced as part of a new programme to improve woodland and its biodiversity across Essex County Council woodland estates. Standard trees are often part of the coppice system. They are larger trees, usually grown for timber on their own, much longer cycle. A proportion of standards are usually retained in a coppice compartment providing a variation in heights, ages and habitats. Seed trees are also retained for seeding into the newly open area, where plenty of light allows for germination. Female ash are left as seed trees where they are visibly unaffected by the new ash dieback disease, as well as other species which are less common in the compartment to maintain diversity. This makes a healthy environment for regeneration and resilience to climate change. There will be supplementary planting after the coppicing, to establish a new generation of standard oak, as well as to provide increased species diversity.

The tops of the trees are termed “brash”, which can appear quite considerable after woodland work. This disappears in a few years, after doing a job of protecting regenerating stools and seedlings, or where it has been laid down as a mat to protect the woodland floor against compaction by machinery.

Prior to starting work, the area is surveyed for potential bat roots and other protected species’ habitat. This includes birds in the nesting season. If any are found, that section of the work is protected by a buffer zone and resumed at a later date.

Deer populations around the Barnston Hall Estate are high. This means they adversely impact the most vulnerable phase of woodland regeneration through browsing shoots and seedlings. Deer are particularly using the eastern part of the woodland block, i.e. Barnston Leys, so coppicing in this area will be protected with temporary deer fencing. The fence will be up for about 4 years, until the understorey is strong and thick enough to be self-protecting.

Thinning in the Link, between Garnetts Wood and Barnston Leys

This area is predominantly oak and ash high forest, but includes hornbeam, sweet chestnut, Scots pine and birch. Oak is strongly light demanding, meaning that it suffers from too much competition. There has been no management activity in this compartment for many decades, leading to ash dominance with the oak suffering as a result.  This reduces oak resistance, making them vulnerable to disease and potentially to die out.  The compartment will be thinned to lighten the canopy, increase ventilation and sustain the oak. In doing this, it will also develop a shrub layer, wild flowers and natural regeneration at ground level. With more light and warmth under the canopy, it will increase habitat for biodiversity.

The oak in the compartment are mainly native pedunculate or English oak (Quercus robur). However, there is one Turkey oak (Quercus cerris). Whilst looking fine it cross pollinates with the native oak and weakens the gene pool. Viable acorns for regeneration and collection would therefore be genetic hybrids. This tree will be felled as part of the thinning.

The tops of the trees are termed “brash”, which can appear quite considerable after woodland work. This disappears in a few years, after doing a job of protecting regenerating stools and seedlings or where it has been laid down as a mat to protect the woodland floor against compaction by machinery.

Prior to starting work, the area is surveyed for potential bat roots and other protected species’ habitat. This includes birds in the nesting season. If any are found, that section of the work is protected by a buffer zone and resumed at a later date.

Timber will be sold as firewood and sawlog products. Any income will help pay for the many costs across the council’s woodland estates.

 


Where is Barnston Hall Estate?

© 2019 Essex Woodland Project.
All rights reserved.


Website by: