Thursday 16th & 23rd November 2017
Over a period of two weeks our Thursday group finished thinning out and coppicing the tree belt around Hethersett Village Hall and chipped all the material. Our visit on 16th November tackled the remaining two sides of the tree belt clearing the rear area of these adjacent to the houses leaving the front section untouched. As explained in our previous blog for this site the plan was to thin out the rear section of the belt and then deal with the front section when the rear section had regrown – this will be some years away but as with many such projects this is a long term programme of works.
We split into two teams tackling the tree belt from each end and working towards each other. The thinnings were hauled out onto the playing field and piled ready for chipping during our next visit. This section of the belt was not as wide as that dealt with previously but had several larger trees which were close to resident’s gardens. We used ropes to pull the felled trees away from the fence line as these were cut down. There were a couple of larger trees which we left for Matt and his chainsaw to deal with. We made good progress clearing all the required areas which meant that only one further visit would be needed to finish the job.
We returned on 23rd November with the chipper to clear up and finish off the task. The grassy field was quite wet and muddy and Matt had difficulty manoeuvring the truck and the heavy towed chipper into the right position. It was also rather windy as we discovered as we began chipping! There were a number of tasks to complete today: chipping of cut material; planting whips (young trees) in the cleared areas to help create a new woodland, and tidy up the hedge around the main entrance to the Village Hall. The chipping could only be done by those trained to use it, so the rest of the team split into two groups to deal with the other tasks.
We had three separate piles of material to chip, so we got to work on each pile in turn. It had been difficult to get the chipper into the right position for each pile and with the brisk wind we were regularly sprayed with chippings – a mixture of wood, bark and thorns from the hawthorn and blackthorn! We were soon into the routine of dragging, feeding and quickly moving away from the chipper as the jaws grabbed the wood. It took most of the day to work through the piles.
Meanwhile other volunteers were busy planting the whips in the cleared areas. Most of the coppiced and pollarded trees will grow back but the new whips will also provide a more diverse range of species for the future. At the front entrance, the team cut back the overgrown hedge and removed some old fence posts. The gaps were filled using hazel poles cut from the tree belt to form a new barrier and whips planted to create a new hedge. A lot of gorse was removed from the hedgerow and later chipped along with the other thinnings – it was horrible spiky stuff to feed into the chipper and created a fine spray which found its way into gaps in our clothing!