My partner and myself became official custodians of Brant River Wood on the 17th January 2010, exactly seven years ago today. Having looked at many small woodlands across the country, in the end we decided on this one, perhaps because it was near where we live and work, or perhaps because we saw its potential.
We started by taking stock of the wood, basically 7 acres of hybrid Poplar with a few veteran oaks and an understorey of oak and ash. We counted around 12 different species on day one, but as we got to know the wood that increased to 18.
One of the things we wanted to do from the start was to have a collection of British native trees and shrubs. To date we have 40 of the 42 true natives as well as the ‘newer’ natives such as sycamore and larch.
We also wanted to make the woodland more accessible, moving around was difficult to impossible thanks to the tangle of brambles, so we put in some paths and a clearing which helped a lot. We also introduced a more diverse flora by seeding around the edges of the paths and clearing. We hope that this will encourage the insects and therefore small mammals and birds.
For now, we continue to remove hybrid Poplar and to extend the sycamore coppice. In the middle of our clearing we have a beautiful 5 stemmed coppice oak, we use this space for gatherings of family and friends.
It’s a lovely place, full of butterflies, birds, grass snakes, stoats, deer and many other visitors.
Our learning continues, green woodworking, charcoal making, anything woodland related really.
We intend to continue to work on Brant River Wood ’til we can’t anymore, it is our legacy, and labour of love. Please come and visit us, we enjoy meeting like-minded people, to share experiences and hopefully learn new things.