In our last blog post we were talking all about how the volunteers have been preparing part of Tweedhope for some planting.
Yesterday they turned out in force to get the trees in the ground. Armed with planting bags, planting spears and mallets, we started the day with a quick introduction to the task before everyone got going. It was a pretty bleak day but spirits were high (I think planting oak trees does that to people) and it definitely helped that we had been through before and prepared the area. The good soil meant that planting was easy with the terrain providing the biggest challenge - it's quite steep with lots of bumps and gullies.
As the volunteers were busy with that I took some time to check out some of the planting on neighbouring slopes and found quite a few small Sitka spruce (Picea stichensis) seedlings.
Sitka are not native to this country but they are very widely planted across Scotland. They grow very quickly and are often planted tightly together in blocks which are clear felled after a certain number of years, often on a rotational basis. The wood is used for a mix of things including paper, cardboard and pallets. The sites are often replanted with the same/similar species but they are quite a nasty scar on the landscape for some time.
As we are trying to establish native woodlands, we really don't want any Sitka spruce. These will have grown as a result of natural regeneration i.e. seed falling/blowing into the area. Therefore where we find them, we pull them up. It is something we have to keep a close eye on so regular inspections of all of our woodlands is key.
By lunchtime we had planted 300 oaks (and pulled up 6 sitka!) so lunch was in order.
|Lunch beside our babbling brook in Stotfield Gill|
We spent the afternoon in our Stotfield Gill plantation - a small area of just a couple of hectares which runs alongside the burn - marking out any dead trees for replacement next year. We managed to do most of the plantation but initial figures and observations suggest the trees are doing rather well in there which is brilliant to see.