Whitlingham Marshes – Willow Scrub Coppicing

Friday 25th September 2015

Although it was a nice sunny day, there was a definite feel of autumn in the air, which was quite apposite as this was the first of the winter work days for me.

Working at Whitlingham Marshes, the task we were to undertake was to clear an area of over grown trees and scrub in order to allow more light into the area.

If left unmanaged, land like this would rapidly become dense and impenetrable, so we clear parts of the ground which in turn will encourage more wild flowers and other habitat to grow and so generally improve the site.

The willow we were cutting down was being coppiced, which meant that it would regrow in the spring, creating an age structure to this area of willow scrub. In turn this will create a good mix of plants and other vegetation, which is advantageous for birds, butterflies, dragonflies and smaller mammals and invertebrates. The ultimate goal for all this is to encourage more biodiversity in-terms of plant and animal life.

Volunteers in action at the Norwich Fringe Project
Volunteers in action at the Norwich Fringe Project

And so to work.  We split ourselves into different work parties, cutting – carrying – burning. Some of the volunteers set about clearing the undergrowth, with Matt Davies (Project Officer) cutting down the larger trees with a chain saw.  The trees were then cut into manageable sizes for easy transport to the bonfire site, where the brash was burned.  With the logs being made into habitat piles.

Volunteers in action at the Norwich Fringe Project

We all seemed to have a go at all the tasks, and soon we had cleared a fair amount of the site we were working on.

Volunteers in action at the Norwich Fringe Project
Volunteers in action at the Norwich Fringe Project

This site may have to be revisited in a year or two to maintain a balance of both open vegetation and willow scrub.

Another job well done.

Written by Alan Rae, Norwich Fringe Project Volunteer

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