The Fingle winter tree felling continues in many areas of the woods. The infected larch in Hall’s Cleave is being cut and stacked, ready for extraction. This task has been prioritised to prevent the spread of the phytophthora ramorum pathogen and this stage of the work is nearly over. While this has been a bit of a distraction from the main conifer felling programme, other work is going to plan.
Beside the lane between Clifford Bridge and Willingstone Cottages an area of spruce has also been cleared. These mature conifers, standing on the mighty outer ramparts of Wooston Iron Age Hillfort have been felled to protect the archaeology. To further protect the ancient earthworks and ground flora, the forestry machines have been driving over a brash mat; the layer of branches laid out to spread the weight of vehicle movements.
Through the coming years this one-hectare woodland compartment will start to regenerate as a wild habitat and the neighbouring hedge, a few roadside shrubs and small birch trees will provide seed for a young broadleaved woodland to develop.
This process will take many years and the developing vegetation is likely to colonise gradually. The greater diversity of plants will bring with it many opportunities for reptiles and mammals, butterflies, beetles and birds.
When you are passing Wooston Hillfort keep an eye on the progress of the woodland regeneration and also look out for the changes captured by Paul Moody’s photo archive.
by Matt Parkins