TL 873 275
Lime and chestnut coppice with oak standards.
Planned Woodland Operations for 2018-19
Chalkney Wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, valued for its coppiced ancient woodland. It has an established coppicing plan which has been ongoing for a number of years. 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.
The coppicing plan will continue, leaving a proportion of larger standard trees which provide 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 may be 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.
A new contractor will begin work at Chalkney, starting at the beginning of September after the school holidays. At this time, conditions are expected to be drier, and the paths will not be left in a badly rutted condition. There will be slightly more cover from the new canopy, representing a "coppice thin", rather than a complete cutting of stools. Because the compartments are on a 25 year cycle with very light management, some of the stools are poor and thin. Discernible patches will be left to grow on into the next cycle, resulting in variation across the work area.
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 have been increasing over the years, and although they do not like to eat lime or sweet chestnut much, which are predominant at Chalkney Wood, they do selectively graze other species, tipping the balance away from diversity. Even moderate browsing is beginning to have an impact at Chalkney, so a monitoring exclosure plot will be installed this winter to visualise the extent of impact.