At the moment Blackbark is busy coppicing at our last site of the winter: North Dean Wood at West Vale, near Greetland and Elland. We are working in the triangle of woodland behind Clay House at the south eastern end of the woods. These woods have grown up on old quarry and railway land – the Stainland branch line used to run through here. Again, we are coppicing one fall of around half an acre – it is mostly young birch and oak with a few old, gnarly oak trees. These larger oaks will be left as reserves. There is plenty of sycamore regeneration, and we will be introducing ash into the area. The coppice cycle will again be around 15 years and we expect to see a mix of species: sycamore, birch, oak and ash. These will provide material for a good range of products. The timber coming out now is mostly twisted and knotty, so will be firewood, but there is some straight stuff for turnery and oak for riven oak panels. There are some bluebells, and some wood sorrel, but most of the area is covered in Himalayan balsam. Yum! There is also an excellent population of wood blewits, one of my favourite edible mushrooms. Yum yum!
Work will finish by 25th February. There will be a temporary deer fence to protect the regrowth from browsing. Brash piles will rot down quickly and in the meantime will provide an excellent habitat for insects and birds such as the wren.
We have had great help from Rupert Clamp, a coppicer from Marsden (in the next valley over). He is currently looking for woodlands to manage in his area, so if you live around there and think you might be able to help then get in touch with him! Also many thanks to Robin Dalton of Calderdale MBC Countryside Service for all your support.
No photos yet cos I lost my camera :(