Traditional management is bringing new life to a woodland in West Malvern.
Dormice, bluebells, and spotted flycatchers will all benefit from the coppicing at Park Wood on the slopes of the Malvern Hills.
A local woodsman, Phil Hopkinson, has started this year’s winter work to traditionally manage hazel within the woodland, in partnership with the Malvern Hills Trust.
Andy Pearce, Conservation Officer of the Trust said ‘Coppicing is the practice cutting of trees or shrubs at ground level to stimulate new growth. Creating a mosaic of different age and size hazel plants is essential for the dormouse, a protected species.’
Numbers of dormice in the UK are in decline and these creatures are becoming increasingly rare following changes in woodland management. The Trust’s traditional management will support the local dormouse population by conserving this important habitat.
Andy added ‘By cutting the hazel we allow light to reach the woodland floor which encourages woodland flowers such as bluebells to grow and also brambles which produce blackberries, an important food source for the dormouse.’
Phil Hopkinson said ‘The hazel within Park Wood is cut on an 8-year rotation and the material produced used for a variety of tradition products including hedging stakes and binders for hedge laying and bean poles and pea sticks for the garden.
This low impact traditional method of woodland managing woodlands provides a mosaic of diverse and valuable wildlife habitats as it allows light into the woodland which in turn allows the woodland flowers and fauna to flourish.’
Some areas of Park Wood are left as ‘non-intervention’ and are not actively managed. These denser woodland stands provide a different habitat for bats and rare flora such as the violet helleborine. Rides within the woodland are also kept open to provide sunny and warm areas for butterflies and reptiles.