Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sunday 7th March: Coppicing around Priory and Finger Lakes

It was a beautiful sunny and bright spring day which saw a (lucky for us) thirteen volunteers helping to coppice willow on the lake edges at Priory Lake and Finger Lakes.

The fast growing willows are coppiced every two years to keep them to a manageable size and prevent them from shading out the adjacent reedbeds, which are an important habitat for a variety of birds, insects and waterlife. The reedbeds also help reduce erosion of the bank by absorbing the energy of the waves.

The volunteers quickly coppiced the blocks of willow by Priory lake (other blocks will be cut next year). An interested onlooker was park regular Dawn, 83 years young and a former landgirl, who gave their efforts the thumbs up.

The volunteers then moved on to coppice more willow adjacent to the Finger Lakes conservation zone. The photo shows trees being coppiced and the stumps from which new shoots will grow later in the spring.

A useful byproduct of coppicing the willow is the cut material itself. Coppiced willow tends to produce plentiful straight whip-like shoots in the first year which can be used for willow weaving or as binders for hedgelaying. Two year or older coppice can give stout stakes for fencing and hedgelaying or rods for willow spiling (a short woven living willow fence put in the water to protect against erosion; you can see some near the beach at Priory Lake). The photo shows volunteer Sue with some of the cut willow destined to be woven into fence panels to replace old ones by the Kramer Hide.

Once the coppicing was completed the volunteers helped to prepare the cut willow for its variety of uses, sorting it into piles according to length and thickness and trimming off any excess. A local school, a conservation group and our sister park at Harrold-Odell are amongst those also able to make use of the willow.

Once again the Priory Rangers would like to thank everyone for their hard work, so it is many thanks to Henry, David, Gerard, John, Alan, Paul, Dave B, Neil, Gordon, Paul, Sue, Lin and Dave H.

Our next volunteer day is Sunday April 11th when we are replacing some steps into the Fingers Conservation Zone.

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