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Knowle Wood - January update

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4 months 1 day ago #2 by bill_or
bill_or created the topic: Knowle Wood - January update
Posted on behalf of Dave Thatcher

At the invitation of myself and the other volunteers, we invited Dr Simon Young and his colleague Keith Hillier –Palmer to the PC owned part of Knowle Wood in November 2016 to give their views on what we have been doing in the Wood regarding clearances etc.
Sue Clarke had a more in depth conversation with them, and Sue has given a good summary of what was observed, as follows:

Knowle Wood [Southern end] Fairlight
On a sunny Tuesday, 29th November 2016, Simon Young and Keith Hillier –Palmer, kindly met with the handful of hardy souls who have been clearing the part of the wood still available for public use.
Simon and Keith undertook a bio blitz in 2014. We were keen to take advice and share the potential opportunities. Our part of the wood has probably not been managed since the 1960s, resulting in tall spindly trees seeking light, with many rotten leaners. The middle and floor stratas you would expect in a healthy wood have been shaded out. Holly and brambles have become rampant, dominating and preventing diversity.
The aim of the woodland work has been to clear the holly and brambles, to create glades and paths, so that people and dogs can actually access this fantastic resource. We are delighted that families are now using the woods on a regular basis .We do still see dogs “on the wrong side of the fence” determined to continue routes as they have done in the past. We have deliberately piled rotting wood for habitat and also created teepees for humans to play in.
This autumn in our cleared section, we have noticed more butterflies basking on the tree trunks enjoying the warmth and sap, secretive tree creepers, soaring buzzards, robins and nuthatches. We have left the brambles to flourish around the edges where they do get sunlight and therefore flower and fruit which will offer food and protection for butterflies, birds and moths. Those brambles in the dark are merely a vicious entanglement, and will be dug out to allow other plants to flourish on the wood floor i.e.; bluebells, campions, celandines, wood anemone etc. We have been careful to retain struggling ferns, sedge and saplings of cob, rowan, and hawthorn creating a middle strata.
There is, of course, potential for conflict. Controlled management of our part of the wood is what we are aiming for; to increase access and enjoyment of a local facility, and in the longer term, create healthier stratas with greater diversity.
Any human intervention inevitably affects natural development, but Simon and Keith were sympathetic to our aims, and commented that our efforts to date have not been destructive.
They have agreed to return in August 2017 to undertake a mini bio blitz to keep all sides informed of the health of the wood.

Simon and Keith will visit again around May 2017 to do another Bio-Blitz. There will also be a moth trapping session in July or August.

Dave Thatcher, January 2017

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