June Meeting

John Heathcott talked about the Woodland Trust and Ancient Woodlands of the Cotswolds, explaining that colonizer trees, firstly silver birch, were followed by Scots pine, hazel, willow, lime, oak and others; this information having come from carbon dating pollen grains which are practically indestructible!

John described ancient forest as areas with single native trees showing evidence of repeated coppicing and pollarding also having areas of native mature trees, standards, for timber and areas of straight single stemmed trees, high forest, with boundary ditches on the inside of the forest’s edges.

He explained that all our native trees regrow when coppiced or pollarded and this cycle creates differing levels of light and shade, allowing wildflowers, ferns and fungi to flourish providing diverse habitats and food for wildlife.

John, in his role as a Woodland Trust Ranger, manages Lineover Woods near Cheltenham.  Along with volunteers he works to increase habitats and biodiversity by widening paths and clearing around old oaks. The team coppice 1 or 2 limes a year, for if you don’t, John says they fall over! Cut wood is used to make charcoal to sell and for hedges and fences. Introduced conifers cut out light which being bad for biodiversity are removed and new trees planted which frustratingly, John says, can be destroyed by squirrels or disease!

Lineover wood is home to rare large leaf limes and many wild flowers including, bluebells, lily of the valley and orchids; 500 species of fungi have been recorded and wildlife abounds, such as deer, birds and rare butterflies.

For more information visit woodlandtrust.org.uk

John Heathcott
Ancient oaks, remains of an ancient forest affectionately known as ‘The Committee’