This was the second of two visits to this site this winter, the earlier visit having been at the beginning of December when we started the coppicing. The site was last coppiced some 20 years ago and is now being coppiced as part of the BeWILD project, see below, which aims to encourage the management of woodland.
For our earlier visit the weather had been bleak with a biting wind and the ground frozen but now there where signs of spring with snowdrops in flower and bluebells showing green through the leaf litter.
The area being coppiced consists almost exclusively of hazel and alder with a few birch and cherry (which were retained) and the occasional oak on the boundary of the field adjacent to the site.
It is a beautiful site benefiting from the protection of a deer fence, although in December this had not prevented a couple of German Shepherds (of the canine variety) gaining access. Fortunately once inside the dogs where much more friendly than their initial prowling along the fence barking loudly had indicated.
If we have any regrets, other than not being permitted a bonfire, it is that because of difficulties with access most of the cut material will go unused.
The BeWILD project is a joint initiative by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and the Thames Valley Environmental Records Centre (TVERC) to promote the restoration of Berkshire's semi-ancient woodlands funded by Natural England. Funding for the project ends in March 2011 but we hope the work that has been started will continue.