Finally, a moment to breathe and put some updates on this here blog!
Through December and January, Blackbark did a lot of work at Alder Carr Wood, inbetween Keighley and Silsden. We are introducing a coppice rotation in the flattest area of the woodland, around 6 acres next to the Leeds and Liverpool canal. It consists of sycamore-dominated natural regeneration with some birch, oak, alder, grey willow, rowan and holly. The cycle length will probably be around 15 years, depending on rate of regrowth – we have cut one fall this winter (about half an acre) and will continue to cut one fall every year. There is much more timber in these woods than on our other sites, but due to its large size, access issues and the distance from our HQ, there is no point in extracting it in its raw state. Instead, the timber is stacked and we will convert as much as possible on site. This will include the production of charcoal and turned items such as bowls. The larger straight grained butts will be planked on site and seasoned for carpentry use.
This wood, part of the larger Spring Crag Wood, has some lovely ground flora: bluebells, wood sorrel, dog’s mercury, honeysuckle. There is also a healthy fungal population. Introducing a coppice rotation into a small area of the wood will support the diversity of woodland species for years to come. Carrying out felling work in the winter helps to reduce damage to plants – though it was scary seeing a few bluebells poking their heads up at New Year! Spring is definitely becoming less predictable. We have erected a temporary deer fence around the fall which will stay in place until the coppice regrowth has ‘got away’ from the deer. It will be interesting to see how the ground flora fares in this area with the massive increase in light and the protection from browsing.
A lot of the hard work in this wood has been stacking lots of heavy logs. Many thanks to all the wonderful volunteers who have put their backs into this, including the numerous Warty Deadenders. Many thanks also to Neil and David, who have been so generous with their lovely woods, and to the Baldwins at Low Holden Farm.