Friday, 4 July 2008

Clearing windblown trees

I had Thursday off work this week, so while Tracy was busy in meetings about training people in woodland management, I was in our wood doing some of it! There are a number of chestnut stools in our wood that have blown over in the past, before we bought the wood, and I spent today clearing some of them up.

But first, some pictures of an interesting piece of machinery that our contractor had left at the wood:
Basically, it can cross-cut a log, split it, and load it into a trailer or truck!

You can see the teeth on the circular saw for crosscutting here:
and here's the splitter in the foreground:
stored behind the splitter is the driveshaft, which in operation would link a tractor coupling to this point:
Anyway, back to the work I was doing. There are several reasons to take down windblown coppice stools:

  • safety - if they are hung up in another tree they can potentially fall at any time and injure someone
  • returning them to health - if they are still alive, then felling the stems and settling the stool back in the ground will sometimes allow the tree to recover
  • ease of working - windblown trees are in the way when coppicing.
There is a potential downside in that a dead tree is a useful wildlife habitat, but this is less of an issue for chestnut, which is durable and rots very slowly, so is not much help to wildlife anyway.

No felling license is required for windblown trees, and as the majority of the ones I dealt with were already dead, there was no downside to cutting them in the summer either. A few stems were alive, but in such as state that I thought it best to deal with them right away and give them a chance to get a bit of new growth in before the summer is gone. I was focusing on the areas where we expect to coppice later this year, to save us time in the winter.

Here's a typical windblown stool, where all the stems were long dead:
After clearing all the stems, I found that the stool itself was completely uprooted - we'll have to think about what creative use we can put it to...
Here's another dead one after cutting the stems - very satisfying work to do!
This one was a bit more tricky, as I wanted to preserve the honeysuckle (I only get rid of it where it's interfering with regrowth on coppiced stools):
It worked out OK, I was able to avoid cutting the honeysuckle and trail it over another nearby tree:
At the end of all this I had quite a pile of logs, all thoroughly dry as the trees had been dead for several years:
I'll be saving some this to convert to charcoal, as it should be ideal for that, and the rest will make great camp fires when needed.

While doing all this work, I saw the most butterflies ever in a single day at the wood. See the post on them here. I also saw a small lizard, but didn't have my camera with me.


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