by Matt Parkins
After a year of hard work it’s time to take a short step back to examine the new look at Fingle Woods. Making the most of the longer spring evenings, Dave Rickwood led a walk and talk to show local people how woodland restoration work has taken a large stride forward. A series of talks throughout the first year at Fingle covered topics from heritage motor trials and archaeology to deer management and wildlife but this one rounded up the initial conifer harvesting work and the expected effects on the restoration of natural woodland.
On entering the woods from Fingle Bridge, Dave started by explaining how engineering work on tracks and culverts aimed to prolong the life of surfaces by keeping drainage working and preventing the build-up of standing water.
Chatting and strolling further along the river side, the group stood below a steep bank looking up at conifer stumps and open sky. Five rows of douglas fir had been harvested here, leaving the remnant broadleaves the freedom to grow and drop their seed on the surrounding ground. This method has been repeated all along the valley to enhance the softer woodland edges and improve the valley as a thoroughfare for wildlife and recreation.
The next topic was deer management. In order to monitor their impact, a number of experimental deer exclosures are being built to test what would happen without their browsing.
The bottom of the valley has been exposed to the sky which has brightened up public access. Any future forestry work will now be done from higher tracks, leaving this initial phase to regenerate in peace and those enjoying walks in Fingle Woods will be able to enjoy the river Teign for many years.