Managing Danbury Commons and Blakes Wood

See what we get up to in autumn and winter to conserve the commons and woods. Find out more about our winter work, heathland restoration, scrub cutting and coppicing.

At this time of year we are busy carrying out the cutting of the heath and acid grasslands. You are probably used to seeing the grass cut in July/August, ready to be baled for animal feed. However, we don’t start cutting grass until August and then we mow through to November. In this way wildflowers have had a chance to sow their seed. 

We use a large device, called a flail, which collects up the cuttings. These are then disposed of in specific areas, keeping nutrients off the field and allowing the heather to flourish and survive. This system is as close as we can get to grazing without using animals. 

Some parts of Danbury Commons have thicker growth, including trees such as blackthorn, maple and oak. These scrubby areas are managed in rotation, so that as they grow there is a mix of height and density, making them suitable for a range of wildlife, including nightingales, dormice and butterflies. 

There are other areas of woodland on the Commons where we carry out coppicing. We fell most of the trees in those areas and the regrowth gives us a multi-stemmed tree. Dormice find this an ideal habitat it is great for firewood production.