For many centuries, the Bretton woodlands were intensively managed as a sustainable resource but relatively recent abandonment has left the woods in a state of decline.
The management plan published in 2013 concluded that the best method for conserving these ancient semi-natural woodlands and their particular biodiversity was to re-introduce the old method of coppicing with standards. Plot by plot, the hazel and some of the ash will be coppiced, with new infill planting where necessary.
More details can be found in the full copy of the Management Plan.
The less healthy mature trees will be thinned to allow more light to reach the woodland floor, but carefully selected ash and oaks will be left as standards of varying age. It won’t be left too tidy however, as some deadwood is needed to provide habitats for the less obvious insects, fungi and microbes which are an essential part of the woodland ecosystem.
It is important to monitor how well the woods and their associated flora and fauna are responding to the new programme of coppicing and, with the help of the Wildlife Trust, a system of keeping check has been established using GPS mapping, photography, and regular surveys ranging from ground flora to tree health, deer activity and even fly tipping. We are also hoping to monitor the bat and moth populations in the woods. Similar work is being carried out in Castor Hanglands, but as yet the monitoring there is informal.
The coppicing is carried out in the winter months, while a lot of the surveying, as well as maintenance of paths is done in the summer. If you have an interest in joining the conservation work, then please check out the ‘Events and courses’ page, or get in touch.
Map of Pococks Wood coppice coups from the Management Plan
Map of Grimeshaw Wood & Highlees Spinney coups from the Management Plan