Heathland management at Budby

4th March, 2017

Today we made a visit to the northern side of Sherwood Forest, known as Budby South Forest and this is a very new RSPB reserve so there is a lot of management work to be done in order to fulfil the ecological potential of the site.

A total of 9 members came along to what was a monthly Saturday work part lead by Chloe Ryder – RSPB Senior Warden. There were other regular volunteers working alongside us who were very friendly and taught us all a lot about practical conservation work. The day began with an introduction from Chloe where she explained what we would be doing, why we were doing it, and the necessary health and safety instructions. The aim of the game was to remove tree saplings growing in the heathland that Chloe had marked with spray paint (in order to prevent succession into woodland), and then to use the resulting brash material to build a dead-hedge along the roadside to stop people from driving onto the reserve with dirt bikes and quadbikes. Chloe herself was felling larger trees with a chainsaw and then using the timber to create posts for the dead-hedge which are needed to hold all of the brash in place.

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For the first hour we all worked on removing tree saplings together, then we stopped for a tea break where Chloe kindly made everyone (who wanted one) a cup of tea/coffee and passed around her tin of biscuits. After break, since we had around 15 pairs of hands, we were able to split up the jobs of removing tree saplings and building the dead-hedge, as a result we had removed all of the saplings that Chloe had marked before lunchtime! During lunchtime we spotted Ravens and Buzzards above our heads and then Chloe told us about the breeding Woodlark population which had just started singing to establish their territories, these are birds that are found almost exclusively on heathland so it gave us an idea of what we are helping out with our management work.

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After lunch Chloe showed those of us who had been removing tree saplings to a new area where we were still removing tree saplings but this time it was Scots Pine sapling in particular, as this species is quick to establish on heathland if allowed to do so. People who were working on the dead-hedge before lunch continued to do so after lunch and by the end of the day it was pretty much complete. Chloe said that she was very happy with the work we had done and that we are more than welcome to return in the future to help her out, which we will certainly do!

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