Dunscar Woods: Tree Thinning

14th October 2021

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.

Pedunculate Oak
Pedunculate Oak
Birch
Birch

New woodlands such as this are often planted quite densely, with only 2 to 3 metres between each tree. Although there is always some loss through animal grazing, disease such as ash die back, and climatic conditions, the trees take up more room as they grow and need to be thinned out.

Another purpose of thinning is to improve the age structure of the woodland. One of the problems of planting lots of trees at once is that all of the trees are more or less the same age hence the mix of long lived trees such as oak and short life-spanned species such as birch. The Trust envisages that over the next 80 years the short lived species will die off, his will provide standing deadwood and fallen logs which will benefit a range of bird and invertebrate species; gaps in the canopy will benefit also woodland floor flora. This area of Bolton has limited natural tree cover and a limited mix of species, as the wood regenerates naturally this should improve and the wood will become self sustaining.

Candidate trees had been marked up by a Woodland Trust officer, many of them were diseased and posed a danger to the rest of the wood and the wood’s users. The day before the task many of these marked tree were taken down by chainsaw, leaving Sunday’s group the job of cutting them up and making the brash into habitat piles and log stacks. The day was also a good opportunity to train some of the younger members, and Duke of Edinburgh students, how to fell trees safely and how to use tools correctly.

Despite the amount of material dealt with there is still plenty left to do and we may need to come back at a later date. In the meantime well done everyone. Thanks to Rick, Tom and Caroline for organising, and special thanks to Mr. Riley of the Woodland Trust for letting us work here. Also thanks to Dunscar Industrial estate for allowing us to park.

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