Our objectives at Lag Wood are, and always will be, the maintenance of habitats and biodiversity in this ancient woodland. Coppicing lets light and warmth onto the woodland floor, improves ground flora and enables all manner of regeneration including trees. This is the reason why we are doing it. But there is an opportunity to offset some of our costs by selling some of the cut wood locally. Hence the stacks of wood awaiting collection by a local firewood merchant when the ground is firmer in late spring or early summer.
We are expecting all the felled coppice stools to regrow, and this regrowth needs protection from rabbits and deer both of which can kill coppice stools in the early phases of regrowth. We are particularly concerned for our Hornbeams. Some of the Hornbeam stools are extremely old and none have been coppiced since 1945. A few weeks ago deer caused significant damage to coppices in the locality. To give all our coppices the best chance of successful regrowth we will be erecting a temporary deer fence around the quarter hectare currently being coppiced in the central section of the wood.
It is sad to have to report vandalism in this area. Our fence on the cinder path at the south west corner of the wood has been cut for the second time in a year. Obviously this is criminal damage and will be reported. The perpetrator used some fairly heavy-duty wire cutters and clearly came with the intention of cutting the fence. Whilst we do not prevent members of the public from visiting Lag Wood we point out that it is private property and appropriate behaviours are expected. There are no public rights of way in Lag wood. Entrances and exits are on Pheasant Field and we have no intention of changing this arrangement. We have made a temporary repair and will reinstate the fence shortly.
Last weekend we saw the consequences of just one small fast dog out of control – 170 terrified pregnant ewes chased round the meadow to the point of exhaustion & three of us, including the dog’s owner, powerless to stop it. 24 hours later the sheep were still reacting so strongly to the sight of dogs that we felt it best to stop the grazing early & return them to larger fields. One ewe was unable to follow the others and some sheep may have lost their unborn lambs.
ALL DOGS ON LEADS is not too much to ask. We only put up signs when there is a good reason. We’d like to thank the 99% of dog owners, who do cooperate but it only takes one very distressing incident for serious injury to occur. The dog’s owner said that it had no previous history of chasing sheep.
They’re big they’re woolly and they’re back! The sheep should be arriving on Monday the 7th December and will stay for around a week. Sheep are a very important part of our meadow management and we are very pleased to have them back, and very grateful to the local farmer for allowing them to graze on Pheasant Field. We will be erecting our electric fence in the same position as last year – please see the map below. There will be signs on the stiles to ensure that everyone is aware of what is happening.
Please keep dogs on leads while sheep are in the meadow. Your dog might not chase sheep but the sheep do not know that. Also an electric sheep fence is quite powerful and curious dogs who try and sniff it will tend to bolt, so please be aware.
If you are walking in the wood you might notice lines of enigmatic yellow flags in odd parts of the wood, sometimes accompanied by strips of yellow tape lined up with them. You might also wonder why they keep moving around. Don’t worry, we are marking out areas for our management plan so that we can survey in detail what is in the wood. This includes estimating numbers and ages of trees and coppice stools, assessing areas of habitat and documenting flora and fauna. It is an important part of planning. It helps us understand where and what we coppice, and what we leave alone. It also forms a baseline which we can use, in future years, to assess whether we are meeting our objectives of improving habitat and biodiversity in Lag Wood. It’s quite a detailed job so the little flags might be around for a few weeks.
A big, if belated, thank you to the volunteers of the South Downs National Park for giving us such a great helping hand in the meadow – for the third time this year. This time scything and pulling creeping thistle, which is no easy task. A huge thanks from us and good to meet you all again.
For at least one aspect of coppicing, this is what success looks like. Throughout 2013 and 14 we only saw two species of butterfly inside the wood itself, Silver Washed Fritillaries and Speckled Woods. Almost as soon as we had completed coppicing in March we started to see Brimstone, Green-Veined White and Peacock butterflies taking advantage of the light, warmth and shelter. And yesterday this Red Admiral (one of a mating pair) added itself to the list.