January 2024 Update

January Update – Coppicing for Wildlife, Rosemary Holden KWT Warden

On 11th January, Ellen joined me and the Medway Wetland volunteers for some coppicing at Holborough Marshes. Holborough has around seven pairs of nightingale across the 39ha reserve, and the plan is to create more nightingale habitat by coppicing the scrub block. 

As the blackthorn is all the same age and a bit “leggy”, 0.1ha is coppiced annually and the stumps left at just under 1m high to encourage denser regrowth at nightingale nesting height (plus this stops rabbits eating the new growth).   

My volunteers and Ellen tackle the smaller trees, leaving any that they deem to be too big for me and the chainsaw. However, I often turn around to see them cutting trees which I thought they would leave for me! What is cut is either burned or dead hedged around the edge of the plot, creating a barrier for dogs and/or people. 

I also encourage the volunteers to connect the dead hedges together within the plot and leave a lot of fallen trees in situ – essentially to leave the plot a mess. This creates corridors for small mammals and plenty of dead wood for fungi and invertebrates, therefore providing a food source. 

I look forward to the nightingales returning in the spring, though it will be a few years until this year’s plot has regrown enough for them to nest in. Hopefully in the years to come, the scrub plot will be full of bird song.   

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