Moreton Wood

In my role as Chairman of the Parish Council, the councillors were invited to take a walk round Moreton Wood, the owners of which were putting in a planning application for a new sustainable home.

More information here.

Moreton Wood is a chunk of 40 acres of partially ancient woodland, mixed in with some 60’s conifer plantation. The current owners are now returning the woodland to its traditional coppiced woodland, with native tree species. Each year they clear an area of approximately an acre hauling the felled wood by horse for processing on site on ancient trackways – some of which have parish boundary markings (ditches and mounds).

Pile of logs !

They process the wood for firewood (logs), planed timber, pimps (no, really !) which are bundles of kindling wood, and charcoal for BBQs (I’ve been buying for years) and many other purposes, along with material for furniture.

(Cleared area, one year later on a dreary November day)

Conifers which are generally not indigenous to the UK, were planted during and after WW1 to ensure that the country would have a reliable source timber (mainly for coal mine pit props). However, the regimented planting resulted in the conifers forming a continuous canopy that shaded out indigenous ground plant species, an effective mono-culture, and a reduced bio-diversity in woodland. Whilst steps can be taken to ameliorate these impacts, they are no substitute for a natural woodland that maximises bio-diversity.


Three years later…

When clearing the conifers woodland, after hauling the timber away, the brashings are used to create fencing, to protect the newly cleared land from deer. Annual surveys are carried out in accordance with Forestry Commission requirements.

The brashing fences collapse overtime, but last long enough and are a psychological barrier to deter the deer long for enough.
Pigs are used to help break up the soil and ground cover to allow indigenous species’ seeds colonise the area.

A more recent brashing fence.

Invasive species are removed to ensure that natural Ash, Birch and so on are allowed to establish themselves along with ground plants and flowers. As well as the fencing, brambles are allowed as they deter the deer. The deer are also managed by culling to prevent them grazing on the new saplings for the first 3 or so years after which they are established.

Charcoal burners

Deliberate planting of saplings is also carried out to help re-establish the natural coppice ecosystem and increase the density of the trees. This increased density means that the stumps will produce straighter poles that have more uses. Most of the ground plants flower and seed before the trees come into full leaf, so unlike in confier plantations/woods, can flower and seed naturally.

So far over the last 11 years the current owners have been busy coppicing the woodland and are now at the point of being able to harvest woodland they originally cleared.They also run workshops and sell products locally.

This pile of charocal consists of bits too small to sell for BBQs, but can be sold to other users who want smaller bits. It all needs seiving.

Planed wood.

Recently cleared woodland, with net fencing to keep the deer out.

brash fencing with in the background, a sapling with protective sleeve to stop deer stripping the bark off of it.

Their first buiulding, to house their office and for running workshops. The entire building weas constructed using traditional methods and local wood. Built on local stone pillars without cement etc, and raised by local people. They are slowly enclosing the walls and will provide heating and electricity. Top left in the photo, the solar panels provide all the power required, even during the last week (just) of foggy weather.

An inspiration to us all.

More information here.

One Response to Moreton Wood

  1. A J says:

    Excellent! It’s great to see people committed to restoring the natural ways. My wife and I do what we can in our suburban American home. Every little helps.

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