Fencing against Deer at Row Heath
A second area of Row Heath has recently been restored to coppiced woodland. This restoration work, which aims to encourage a wider range of flowers, birds, butterflies and other insects, was undertaken by specialist woodland restorers known as The Wandering Woodsmen. The Woodsmen have now finished work on this part of the site, and the Ranger team has been busy erecting a deer proof fence.
The new fencing, which uses timber from our own woodland and stock netting, is approximately 2m high. The fence needs to be this high as Roe Deer can jump up to 1.5m and Red Deer are capable of clearing a staggering 1.8m!
Deer species do most of their feeding during dawn and dusk, and can do considerable damage to trees. They feed on buds and shoots and will strip foliage off plants. In winter, whilst other food sources may be scarce they will eat tree bark. During the summer months, male Deer rub their heads against tree trunks in order to remove the velvet from a new set of antlers. This creates vertical cuts in the bark and exposes the inner wood. Such trauma may cause growth above the point of damage to die.
Many mammals damage trees, including rabbits, hares, grey squirrels, badgers and some rodents. Ring barking, where the whole circumference of a trees bark has been removed, is a particular problem. It disrupts the flow of water and nutrients between the trees roots and top growth and can cause dieback and even the death of the tree.
Historically in the UK, populations of grazing species would have been maintained sustainably by top predators, such as wolves, bears and lynx. With the absence now of such predators, it is important to protect any coppice re-growth and ensure the survival of coppiced woodland. Although the new fencing will be unable to prevent all damage caused by wildlife, it is hoped that it will give short-term protection to any new coppice growth. The fencing will be removed in around three years, when the re-growth has become woody enough to be unpalatable to Deer.