2018 came to an end quite positively.
Although my other project the Meadowcopse Orchard six miles north had a relaxed year, Wurthymp Wood was busy on several fronts...
Major success was the charcoal manufacture in a ring kiln. This is a sustainable high value product from coppice and thinning operations within the woods.
Some landscaping and levelling within the site between the footpath and private trackways should mske access with the woods easier.
With best intentions, the previous owner set out inner and outer oval access tracks within the tree planting scheme around 2006 / 2007.
This is relatively universally accepted good practice, as it allows access for thinning and future harvest, as well as considerable 'edge habitat' for wildlife diversity.
Unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, compared to the neighbouring site, there was no innert infill. This means the track base (below normal ground level) is not really useable in winter due to mud and leaves a low spot where it crosses the footpath.
Rather than import innert rubble filling, I have begun to work the levels back up to finished ground level with clay (which is adequate for my levdl of access at present operational levels).
The first thorough coppice compartment had some trial cutting in 2016, with great success.
This is now part way being worked where 20 to 30% of trees will be left to grow on for another 80 to 120 years and the regrowth from cut stems reworked in about 8 years time. (The site being divided into sevenths of the total area, the cutting cycle being repeated on an 8 year cycle).
Coppicing initially looks brutal, but prior to 2006 the land was open fields with reasonable grassland plant diversity.
These species and other wildlife would eventually be compromised as the trees block the light hitting the ground.
Working areas of the site as a coppice woodland gives a fantastic opportunity to maintain wildife species diversity, without disrupting much of the site per year.
Negative aspects have been a worryingly dry prolonged summer (will be interesting to look at tree growth rings if narrow, as well as longer term potentisl climate change).
Another concern is Ash Die Back disease - now endrmic in the area and about 25% of the site trees (2000+) potentially affected.
Some overlap work with the neighbour has been my south hedgerow.
For various reasons, this has been a bit neglected for the last 20 years by previous owners. Initially goid for wildlife, tge benefits fall away once blackthorn has become dominant and spread outwards, with the original hedge line declining.
Radical intervention and gap replanting is ongoing into spring 2019.
From about 2 years since I acquired the site, some ungounded rumours started regarding development. This seems to have been a projection regarding a previous neighbour and village attitudes.
Such things can become quite toxic, as well as being a distraction.
I have no desire to develop the site.
I have however secured permission via the local planning department to put up a barn / wood seasoning shed.
People get emotive about planning, particularly on village fringes.
Emotion counts for little in planning legislation, both an application, or any objection has to be technically competent in planning determination.
A lot of people are 'surprised' that there is a presumption for approval for agriculture / forestry planning matters (subject to appropriate support / mitigation documents).
Wildlife remains enchanting, with hares, foxes and badgers often sighted.
Quite a bit of bird diversity, owls in good numbers too. Hopefully leaving the tree side-pruning brash in heaps at the trackway sides gives a good food source of small mammals for the owls.
A downside has been grey squirrel dsmage to the taller trees.
A few visitors throughout the year, both random and organised.
A pleasure to host a camping weekend to a few wildlife and bushcraft friendly friends.
Permitted development rights allow 28 days a year of leisure use, so a relaxed sharing and educational capacity and a stunning summer for camping made this a pleasure.
Another high spot was a visit from my Uncle and his Wife on a journey south from Scotland.
A professional forester with the Forestry Commission for several decades, it was a relief to have no adverse observations, as well as an extra pair of eyes looking ahead at things.
Paperwork seldom sounds exciting, but some tweaks to the longer term management plan for the woods and a move towards the 'Grown in Britain' woodland accreditation scheme adds value.
Secondary aspects are a local landscape history document (Wales has put local tithe map info online).
A priority for me has been to keep an overview folder up to date. This is helpful to explain what the woodland is about snd how it moves forward over time.
I hate putting signs up, but a few basic ones regarding dogs, access etc. and some operational overview ones are arguably helpful.
I hope to put a proper 'information' board up that isn't too obtrusive.