We’ve started work with the volunteer team at Wrotham Water. If you’ve read previous posts you’ll know that we’re undertaking scrub clearance on our precious chalk grassland. Although the major clearance was completed by contractors a couple of years ago, it is a constant battle to keep woody plants in check. If we weren’t to do this, the grass (and the flora and fauna it supports) can quite quickly be lost to scrub and ultimately woodland.
Although we rely on animals to manage the land for us, with over 100 sheep going on the fields in the next few weeks, being the fussy eaters they are we have to work alongside them to cut out the unpalatable woody plants such as hawthorn, dogwood and rose. We aren’t looking to completely eradicate scrub though, with scrubby field margins and isolated areas of small trees having real value. Certain areas therefore remain untouched, the aim being to have around 5% scrub coverage.
The volunteers have been hard at work using loppers and bowsaws to cut the scrub back, whilst Richard and I tackle the larger or dense areas with petrol brush cutters. The cut scrub is collected up, piled in a corner of a field and will be burnt in due course.
The photo shows a few team members hard at work. As you can see, the fields are quite large with plenty of dwarf scrub to be tackled, so we’ll be there on and off all summer.
We’ve actually linked up with the estate volunteers from Ightham Mote for this project. As part of a wider restructuring, Richard has moved to be the Ranger at Ightham, with me now being the only Ranger here at Petts Wood. Whilst the changes in personnal take place, Richard and I will be jointly managaing Wrotham (and Coldrum).
In the coming weeks at Petts Wood we’ll continue to cut back path edges, a couple more paths will have muddy areas removed and stone applied, and we’ll also be starting work on the annual heather weeding…… I can hear the volunteers groaning from here about this last job.