Creating Coppice Products
- The Green Wood Centre
- 25 Feb 2024
Located in the outskirts of Bristol, field archery club member Allan Crocker has full use of, and helps to maintain, 18 acres of mixed woodland.
“The field archery courses are laid out in the woodland and the targets are different sizes and differences. The bows we use range from traditional English longbows to Olympic style bows.
“Club members, as part of their commitment, are expected to help out with any work required around the woods so the maintenance team is fairly ad hoc depending on who turns up on a work day,” Allan explains.
With the sudden appearance of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown, the club was closed following initial government guidelines. Fortunately, the club members were able to use the lockdown to their advantage with woodland work considered ‘essential work’.
“At the start of the emergency last year we closed the club. This gave us, as a maintenance team, the chance to do an in-depth survey of the site,” he said.
Upon conducting an in-depth evaluation of the mixed woodland, the club identified a wide range of plant life.
“We identified oaks that we have estimated are at least 300 years old and hazel stools which had been coppiced in the past. There were also groups of hornbeam, ash, beach, silver birch and two cork oak trees.
“During the closure we also saw an increase in the wildlife, due to the lack of people, with a small herd of fallow deer as well as a couple muntjac. Green and spotted woodpeckers can also be heard and occasionally seen. The badgers have opened a new sett and rabbits and squirrels have multiplied. We even seem to be being used as a haven for a pair of pheasants!”
During the national lockdown, once the group had completed their survey of the woodland, they were also given the opportunity to complete any vital work on the woodland.
“My role was; removing any of the ash with dieback and monitoring the remaining ash trees, thinning wherever is overplanted with cherry and pine, opening up glades and introducing a planting programme with saplings from The Woodland Trust. All of this with consultation with the landowner,” he said.
Whilst working in the woodland, the club made a decision to make good use of the leftover wood and decided to find ways to utilise it wherever possible.
“The pine trees have now been used around the woodland as handrails on bridges and the naturally fallen oaks are in the process of being milled into boards of various thicknesses with the help of a jig for our chainsaws made by a club member who is an engineer.
“Some of the ash has been split into billets and is being turned into chair legs as a local school DT project. Some of the poplar is being used by the same school for carvings. We’ve also supplied various members with seasoned firewood for log burners for a small-ish donation.”
Whilst the mixed woodland definitely required a lot of hard work from the club members, it also offered a much needed escape from the uncertainty and isolation that arrived as a result of the pandemic.
“For the small team who were able to meet up - obviously keeping within the guidelines - the woodland and the work that needed to be completed provided much valued green therapy.
“We were actually quite sad when the club reopened.”
Allan explained that he regularly reads the Small Woods’ members magazine - and uses it as a resource for advice. He also said that he reads it as he enjoys learning about what other woodland owners get up to.
Having been involved with the woodland since 1984, Allan has high hopes for the future of the woods and says he is eager for the woodland to carry on as a venue for archery.