Task Descriptions

Coppicing

This is an ancient practice whereby trees are cut at regular periods (generally hazel every 12 years). This encourages regeneration of the trees from the base, which both helps the tree survive longer and provides a valuable habitat for wildlife. The wood harvested can be used for example as stakes, feathering or charcoal.

Chalk grassland management

Traditionally chalk grasslands would be kept short by the regular attention of grazing sheep. Changes in land management practices however removed the sheep and therefore much of this habitat has now succumbed to scrub. Regular mowing and removal of grass cuttings performs the task once carried out by the sheep. Removal of the cuttings helps to remove fertility from the soil and provide conditions more suited to the growth of native wildflowers and grasses.

Hedgelaying

This is the ancient practice of cutting and laying the trees within a hedge. This provides both a stock-proof fence and encourages re-growth from the tree base, a useful habitat for wildlife. The work requires a good level of skill and is slow to make progress, a volunteer may be expected to lay only 3m per day.

Hedge planting

There are two types of hedge in Britain, the first are remnants of woodlands cleared to create agricultural farming land, and the second are planted as field boundaries. Generally new hedges are planted using 1 year-old trees (whips) in two rows 33cm apart with each tree also 33cm apart (a total of 5 per meter). A volunteer could be expected to plant 50 trees per day or 10 meters.

Pond clearances

Ponds by definition are manmade and traditionally provided drinking water for livestock. As farming practices have changed so has the need for ponds and many have disappeared from the countryside. Ponds naturally silt up over a short period of time and succumb to the growth of scrub and water loving trees such as willow. Over a twenty year period without regular digging out of silt the pond will completely dry out and grass over.

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