Preparation and Planning

Friday, January 5th 2018

Tomorrow is our first WInter Worky Day of the year, and we have at least 15 people booked to come along to help with management of the Reserve.  Part of the day is getting everybody together over lunch, so preparation for the day includes ordering food as well as planning the tasks, together with getting the portakabin ready for people to eat there. 

Weather can also be an important factor in deciding the tasks, and, given the forecast for tomorrow, this has been the case.  One of the most time critical jobs to be done is to complete removal of vegetation, especially Reedmace, from the ponds on the Wetland nearest to the hide.  looking at the ponds just now, they still have a thinlayer of ice on them and the wind is going to strengthen and shift to coming from the north.  That means that working on the ponds is highly unlikely as anyone doing this will become cold very quickly, but the work must be completed by the end of January so will be done whenever there is a window of opportunity during the month.

So part of tomorrow's work will be seeding the heathland with heather seed sourced in the North Pennines.  Again this is an important job to get done this month.  This will be broadcast onto the areas where the Exmoor ponies have eaten much of the vegetation, and will require dividing the area up and weighing the seed to make sure that the correct amount of seed is scattered over each of the three heathland areas.  More will follow on this tomorrow.  Another important job to do tomorrow is to burn some of the material that has been cut and stacked over the last few months.

We are also planning work for the week ahead for both staff and volunteers.  The area of woodland planting above desperately needs to be managed.  you may be able to see two trees in tubes, together with two Oaks on the left of the picture.  The rest of the vegetation is made up of Bramble, and self-seeded Scots pine, Sitka Spruce and Silver Birch.  Some of these are at least 5 years old and there is a danger that they can take over the area by crowding out the slower growing trees. 

As both the Birch and the Spruce spread so prolifically in open areas (with Birch being a very effective colonising species), thinning the area will take a staged approach.  The Bramble needs to be cut back first, followed by removal of the Spruce.  Once this has been done, then we can gauge how much of the Birch will need to be removed.  Work on this will start on Monday, so one of next weeks blogs should feature this picture again and show the results of our efforts.

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