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Highbury Park today - Woodland Wednesday, and Nature Improvement Areas

Over the next few weeks until mid March there will be opportunities to engage with like minded volunteers, interact with nature and contribute to the management of both woodland and grassland, as well as exercising mind and body during Woodland Wednesdays at Highbury Park.

Today we continued coppicing, mostly hazel, and opening up the woodland canopy to allow much needed light to reach the lower levels; our efforts are designed to diversify the woodland plantation, adding layers with new regenerating growth in spring and added wildflowers thanks to Eco Park and NIA.

Coppicing at the Highbury Park plantation
A rather worrying observation led to a discussion regarding the level of bark stripping on 25 year old oaks.

Stripped bark on 20 yaer old oak

It seems that squirrels attack oaks and strip the bark, particularly on trees between the age of 10 and 40 years, and in many cases stripping the bark to ground level, as in this situation at Highbury. The results are not good and difficult to explain in ecological terms, but some accounts suggest occurances are greater when oaks are planted next to mature woodland or near mature individual oaks, as again, in this situation at Highbury.

Most of the oaks in the 28 year old plantation at Highbury Park have squirrel damage to some degree.


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Highbury Park Friends January 2017 newsletter

Join Highbury Park Friends to get up to date information about this wonderful park - follow the link above for the latest newsletter.

There's so much going on already and this is set to increase as the Chamberlain Highbury Trust look to bring many new and exciting ideas to the Highbury estate and adjoining park land. Check out their website on the links below

Weekly and monthly activities incuding 'Woodland Wednesdays' with the Rangers and B&BCWT, supported by NIA (Nature Improvement Area) funding.

Woodland Play after school club, every Wednesday at the Orchard - Highbury Orchard Community Interest Company oversee this -

A visiting student from Virginia asks -

Q1 What do you think are the biggest benefits of teaching and using traditional woodland management techniques in city parks?
A1. The essence of a Ranger’s role is to engage the community at large with the aim of encouraging more people to use parks and green spaces. Therefore a range of themes, topics and activities are employed to meet the broad interests and diverse nature of the public, involving people of all ages, abilities, ethnicities etc. 
The ‘woodland’ theme seems to have universal appeal and is steeped in history, ecology, science, spirituality, mythology and culturally, much more.
So generally we can assume people want to learn something new, make something using natural resources and have an involvement in their local green space, so that a few basic skills, some knowledge and a morsel of understanding related to ecological principles allows people to feel good about themselves and enables them to share these good feelings, acquired skills and gained knowledge with…

Ecotones and Succession = TENSION

The term 'ecotone' cropped up this week as a Tree Officer colleague and I looked at Holders Woods in an exercise to describe the woodland structure, composition and current management.
The word ecotone was coined from a combination of eco(logy) plus -tone, from the Greek tonos or tension – in other words, a place where ecologies are in tension. (Wiki)

Ecotones are generally recognised for ecological richness and a good place to observe the 'tensions' and interactions between certain animals and plants.

A woodland edge for example is often regarded as the richest part of a woodland, especially if the edge is bordered by grassland meadow or water.

The Rea Valley in this regard is a wonderful mix of urban ecosystems and ecotones, and one of my favourite locations is the developing oak woodland at the edge of Holders Woods. Undoubtedly the result of acorn planting Jays, we find oaks ranging from year 1 to year 50, but with a majority of young trees around 10-20 years, sugge…