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CROW (Conserve Reading on Wednesdays)
Wednesday, 20th April 2011
Edestan Wood, near Highmoor ~ Holly clearance

This was our second visit to Edestan Wood, again to clear holly. The task had originally been planned for December as a pre-Christmas celebration but had to be postponed because of the heavy snow. It was now almost Easter and the warm sunny weather of recent weeks, which continued today, meant the trees where almost in full leaf.

The site has SSSI status and it has been recommended that the amount of holly should be reduced to allow a greater variety of flora to flourish. Much of the holly has spread as a result of branches coming in to contact with the leafy top soil and rooting (layering). Providing such holly has not become too well established it can be pulled up.

While there may have been some doubts as to the wisdom of having a bonfire in the dry conditions, it appeared to be the best option for disposing of the volume of material being cleared. The fire site was located in an open area which was cleared of debris and soon everyone was busy cutting and .....

..... dragging.

Another motive for having the fire may have been the thought of baked potatoes for lunch.

By afternoon the hard work was taking its toil. Or was it the baked potatoes with butter and grated cheese or even Steve's marzipan filled fruit cake?

Eventually that 'what to do next' moment arrived. Perhaps 'go home' was the best answer.

But first the fire must die down until it can be safely left .....

..... leaving some time to look around to see what has been achieved.

Signs of regeneration, beech seedlings could be found all around the site. Most will be eaten by deer, a little easier on the mouth than the holly which they also eat though unfortunately not in sufficient quantity to completely control its spread.

A significant amount of holly has now been cleared, we wait to hear whether this sufficient or if more should be removed. We may be back, it is a beautiful site to work at so we remain confident that more needs to be done!

Time for a final cuppa before we depart: Alan, Barry, Steve, Margaret, David, Ricki, Judith and hiding behind the camera Jenny, BTCV Volunteer Officer. Thanks to BTCV for the use of their tools and providing transport for the task.