Good Woods advice for a Site of Special Scientific Interest

posted on October 1, 2013

Jen Katan from B&Q and Jude Hassall from Lantern visited Carol and Dominic Kinsella’s woodland near Goudhurst, Kent as part of the Good Woods project. Their plot is part of the bigger Combwell Wood, which has been split into lots and sold. As a result there are many owners of this one large woodland.

Providing coppice management advice during a Good Woods visit

Providing coppice management advice during the Good Woods visit to the Kinsella’s SSSI woodland

The Kinsella’s wanted some advice and guidance as to how to manage their woodland as active management hadn’t taken place for quite some time.  Ian Johnstone from the Kent High Weald Partnership was the advisor for the day.

The woodland is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), designated for its uncommon Atlantic bryophyte communities (mosses and liverworts) found in the ghylls and is a mix of largely chesnut coppice with oak standards, some of which are now reaching maturity. Ian talked about how those trees might be harvested to provide timber into the local market, a good revenue source for the owners and to maintain the character and habitat of the existing woodland. Ian also discussed coppicing practice with the Kinsellas and gave them an introduction to the local coppicing group working in Combwell Wood.

Mosses and fungi on an old birch stump in the SSSI woodland

Mosses and fungi on an old birch stump in the SSSI woodland

In a walk of the woodland we identified an ancient earth bank that probably formed part of an old boundary or pathway through the wood that the owners hadn’t known existed, some beautiful old conifers and heather in one section of the woodland and a disused charcoal burner in a clearing near the centre of the plot.  In the far corner of the woodland is a naturally draining pond, which fills up with winter rain and stays full for a large part of the year. This pond provides a habitat for frogs and newts, which the owners have spotted when visiting the woodland.

The owners were also keen to get involved in a local dormouse audit as these creatures have also been seen in their patch of woodland and Ian was able to pass on the details of this local initiative.

The visit was really well received by the owners; priority actions were identified and the report that Ian will produce as a result of his visit will give them a clear vision for their woodland and some steps to begin to achieve it.  The Good Woods visit has enabled these owners to take a fresh look at their woodland, give them a deeper understanding of how to sustainably manage it and real practical advice and help with how to do it.

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