Monitoring the Condition of the Woodland

Summer brings an increase in visitors to the parkland and for us as rangers a change of pace in regard to what we are able to do; we are on what industry would term ‘reduced hours’. Until almost the end of August all of our activity is low key maintenance primarily for the benefit of our visitors.
During May and June we altered the route of the Ancient Tree Walk and for several weeks we were weeding and checking the enclosures where we planted out native species saplings last winter.

The grass and in some cases choking weeds can limit the growth of the saplings in these protective compartments.

With June being such a wet month moving about on the land risked churning up paths and tracks; this would make it unpleasant for walkers and consequently there have been many days where we have done very little.

One activity that has been undertaken again this May, is monitoring the condition of the woodlands. Involving those of us who are volunteers is a project set up by Dr Caroline Uff who has a responsibility within the National Trust for Nature Monitoring throughout the region. Each year in May for the past three years, under her guidance, a group of us have been tasked to catalogue a range of species and conditions throughout the parkland that will, over time, provide an indication of the condition of the various areas we are monitoring. In very simple terms we look for specific ground flora, regeneration of native trees, we take note of the structure of the woodland to include the spacing and mixture of species, noting also fallen and standing deadwood that provides habitat for a range of woodland wildlife; these are in the main all positive indicators of woodland health. However we also need to note the threats such as invasive species. The task has provided those of us involved a better understanding of the long term planning that is required to maintain and preserve our parkland for the future.

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John Parsons