Tuesday 24 February 2015

Junior Rangers love juniper trees

The Junior rangers met up again on February 14th. This time the weather was a lot better and we decided to trek up into Tweedhope valley to remove some tree guards from the juniper trees as well as other maintenance tasks.

Thanks to a Action Earth Grant from CSV (Community Service Volunteers)  and support from SNH we were able to provide the group with Junior Ranger jumpers and the essential work gloves! We now really feel like a team and have lots more Junior Ranger days planned for the year ahead.

Thanks Action Earth!

So all kitted out we headed up the hill. A really beautiful walk with time for some winter tree identification, we even found a wooly bear caterpillar!

The team worked well and in no time we had removed the tree guards and restaked the juniper trees on the hill.
Explaining the task!

Juniper are a shrubby species and if you leave the tree guards on too long they will turn 'lollypop' shaped. Not a good look for a juniper and not good for its growth so this was really essential work.

Careful does it 

We also weeded some tree guards to give the trees a better chance of growing well come spring. Its incredible how plants such as heath bedstraw grow up the tree tubes taking advantage of the sheltered conditions.

Check out the heath bedstraw!

The next task was to get those tree guards off the hill.

Sometimes the most fun way to do this is to do it fast!  

Who needs a quad bike!?

Really looking forward to the next junior rangers which is on Saturday the 14th March

We still have a few spaces left. Contact Corehead@bordersforesttrust.org for more information

Ali Murfitt
Community and Educaton Officer

Thursday 19 February 2015

Planting at Corehead Part Two

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.

Site Officer

Friday 6 February 2015

Planting at Corehead

Now that we are well into what has turned out to be a rather hardy winter, we're turning our efforts at Corehead into some planting in our Tweedhope plantation.

Following a survey in the summer we have decided to put in 5,000 trees in Tweedhope. These are to replace any trees that have struggled to grow or have died. We have gone for a mix of Sessile Oak, Downy Birch, Silver Birch, Alder, Goat Willow, Grey Willow and Rowan and most of these will be planted out within the next few months by a contractor.

We have also set aside 300 oaks for our new Corehead volunteer team to plant. We are focusing our efforts on one of the lower slopes in Tweedhope. This is a great spot for oaks as indicated by the large amount of bracken! As an indicator of good soil, it seems like a good place to start.

Some of the team were out yesterday marking out the trees to be replaced. We were looking for any that had died or had struggled to compete with surrounding vegetation.

We took the tubes off and replaced them at an angle. It only took us a few hours to find 300 and for our next volunteer day (weather permitting as always) we'll head out and plant!

Angled tubes a the top of the picture
But it doesn't end there. The bracken gets very dense in this area (remember when Carrifran meets Corehead) so we will be keeping a close eye on this area and doing some more targeted bracken management with our volunteers to help the new trees flourish. 

Site Officer