“Is this carnage?” we question, as we look at the chaos of felled, split and hung up trees. We are in the National Trust woodland at Plymbridge, enjoying the feeling of autumn approaching, and of making the best possible potential habitat for nature.

Our remit in this instance create 4 cleared areas or ‘glades’ within Plymbridge woods, each area comprising about an acre.  The light coming into these clearings will increase the biodiversity of a woodland, with wildflowers, butterflies and other forest animals enjoying the warmth and openness of the glades.

We are ‘felling to waste’ about 80% of the oak, beech and sweet chestnut trees in the selected glade areas, which translates as ‘leaving every tree we cut where it falls’. This huge injection of deadwood into the woodland will be a mecca for those saproxylic dead wood eating beetles, providing also cover for nesting birds and light for the wildflower food plants of butterflies who are always looking to colonise new areas.

Furthermore, we are using our technical knowhow to safely use winch pressure and fell the trees in such a way that they split, tear and uproot.  This leaves natural fissures, cracks and other niches for wildlife to live in, adding to this we will leave a number of trees within the glade that will be veteranised by National Trust tree surgeons. This is when trees are damaged in a variety of ways to mimic tears, lighting strikes wind damage. The tree won’t die but the process creates much needed areas of deadwood, roosting for bats and boosts the habitat structure within Plymbridge woods.

Sweet chestnut tree winched into a split bole

It's such a pleasure to work in a beautiful woodland and be part of a cycle of regeneration and positive woodland management.