Work in the wood

Woods Work Parties are held on the first Sunday of each month, 9.30am-1.00pm. We also also meet most Friday mornings, 9.30am-1.00pm. Check by e-mail what is being tackled.

In addition to the Friends Group activities, substantial contracted activities have taken place during November/December 2011.

Tonkar Ltd has cleared two hectares of rhododendron on the east side of the main entrance, which is in addition to the five hectares removed in previous years. Once this non-­native and invasive species has been removed, we hope to have good regeneration of both flowering plants and tree seedlings. Indeed we now have heather in at least three of the hectare plots north of the car park, which is very exciting.

Further work includes the restoration of the rides north and south of a path junction we call ‘Six-Ways’, creating another glade and the re-coppicing of hornbeam at the west end of the wood – the triangle formed by the Yellow Trail and the two tributary streams of Rowbourne Brook. The ride restoration is encouraging re-­growth of plants of acid heathland that had been lost from these areas because of overshading — including Heath Bedstraw, Wood Avens and Yellow Pimpernel as well as the violets that are food plants of rare woodland butterflies. Indeed we are pleased to report that silver-washed fritillary, purple emperor and purple hairstreak have all been seen in the wood this year.

The top (south) end of the wide ride on the western arm of the Blue Trail has been cleared to create a vista right through to the Yellow Trail – as it would have been in the 19th century when this path went straight through to the main entrance of the woods – a site now occupied by private housing.

Photographs of the newly cleared areas are shown in the blog here.

Firewood and logs arising from the work will be stacked in the middle car park as before. This will be sold as woodfuel and woodchip.

The re-pollarding/coppicing of the boundary along the Cuffley School Camp is also being tackled and work will be phased over several years. This year, a section at the south end has been coppiced as laid as a hedge.

This is an ancient boundary created at the time of the enclosures and management of this feature has been long overdue.

Most of the work is funded by the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Improvement Grant which pays for 80% of the costs. This is because Northaw Great Wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and included within the SE Herts Woodland Cluster regarded by FC as especially important. Sale of timber will help to offset the remaining 20%. Any shortfall will be paid for out of the Ecology budget.

Because of the wood’s inclusion in the SE Herts Cluster, it may also benefit from the Living Landscapes Project, run by the Herts & Middx Wildlife Trust, for which they have gained a substantial grant.

The Friends Group will also be continuing work on the eastern section of the Yellow Trail to widen the ride around the area to the east of where the path crosses Grimes Brook. We will also be removing a block of sycamores to the east of the area where the rhododendron has been cleared. We also hope to continue work on the widening of the northern part of the Blue Trail started a couple of years ago.

The purple areas in the map below show where the clearance and improvement work mentioned above is located.

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