Our work this month

Scrub bashing on Sham Castle Down

Spring creates a lot of jobs on the Skyline, and our rangers and their volunteers enjoy a little more sunshine as they carry out their work.

Early Spring

Our wonderful woodland play area has seen a few changes recently. Constantly evolving since installation began in 2013, a big swing is now being built to replace the original tyre swing. The swing will be suspended on a wire between two beech trees and needs a load of space for thrilling rides.

A rather sick, large horse chestnut was standing forlorn and ruinous at the edge of this space. Larchwood, where the play area is located, was originally planted as ornamental woodland around 100 years ago by the Mallett family, the estate owners who gave it all to the National Trust in the 1960s.

Some of the trees they planted are doing really well and will continue their long lives providing enjoyment to us and wildlife, while some are struggling with the thin calcareous soils. While the beeches thrive, the horse chestnuts here are in decline, suffering from attack by many different fungi.

Felling trees is OK

In a popular woodland like this, we look at our trees’ condition, and with the rare examples that have structural problems and could collapse, we fell them before they fall themselves.

But that’s alright – felling a tree means lots of lovely rotting log and brash piles are created, fantastic for wildlife to settle into and children to hunt amongst for interesting creepy crawlies. A few metres of the big stump remains for climbing around on and eventually rotting and filling with insects.

There is a lack of rotting deadwood lying about our countryside – we are tidy minded, quick to chip, burn and clear up the aftermath of tree work. Much better to leave the wood lying on the woodland floor – as well as being lovely sculptural features, log piles become ‘bug hotels’ as they gradually rot down.