16th October 2022 – Tree thinning, Dunscar Woods, Egerton
Dunscar Wood is a new woodland near Egerton, Bolton. The wood occupies 5.7 hectares of what was formerly green fields which were bought by the Woodland Trust in 1998 as part of their millennial Woodlands on Your Doorstep project. Old maps do show a small patch of woods in the area but not of any great size or significance.
The Dunscar Wood Management plan says that in 1999 wood was planted with a mix of sessile oak, ash, birch, cherry, rowan, aspen, holly, alder, hawthorn, blackthorn and goat willow. Mature sycamore is also present and is thought to be a remnant of previous field boundaries.
New woodlands such as this are often planted quite densely with new stock, with 2 to 3 metres between each tree. Although there is always some loss through animal grazing, disease such as ash die back, and climate and weather conditions, the trees take up more room as they grow and need to be thinned out. Which is what we were doing on this task.
The Woodland Trust is thinning trees, not just to reduce the numbers, but to improve the structure of the woodland as part of the management plan for the site. One of the problems of planting lots of trees at once is the lack of age structure, hence the mix of long lived trees such as oak and short life-spanned species such as birch. The Woodland Trust envisages that over the next 80 years the short lived species will die off and provide standing deadwood and fallen logs which will benefit a range of bird and invertebrate species improving biodiversity in an area of Bolton with limited tree cover and species mix. Natural regeneration should make the new woodland self sustaining; gaps in the canopy should encourage the growth of woodland understorey.
The day before the task many of the larger trees that had been marked for felling were taken down by chainsaw, leaving Sunday’s group the task of cutting up and making into habitat piles and log stacks. The day was also a good opertunity to train some of the younger members how to fell trees safely and correct tool use.
Thanks to the Woodland Trust for letting us work here, Tom, Caroline, and Rick for putting it together, and the 21 (or so) volunteers for coming out. More woodland task write ups can be found under the Woodland category.