Wednesday 28 October 2015

Creating wood pasture at Corehead

As winter approaches, we have started work on a very exciting project at Corehead. We are preparing for some new planting that is  quite different to the large scale woodland restoration we have done to date at Corehead. This time we are putting 50 trees on the slopes in our farmed area to create wood pasture.
Wood pasture is a habitat where trees grow and animals graze beneath. The trees are widely spaced and the grazing animals are often sheep, cows or even deer. It's an important habitat of which there is little left of in Scotland. SNH have produced an excellent booklet on wood pasture.
We decided to plant 50 trees on the slopes between the Beeftub and our largest native woodland plantation in Tweedhope. It's the ideal spot for wood pasture and will have a real visual impact when people approach Corehead or look down from the A701 from the Devils Beeftub.
The idea was to scatter the trees at random across the slopes, so armed with spades and marker posts the volunteers headed out to do the necessary preparation.

Volunteers heading up the hill

Once we decided on a site we cut out a square of turf. This will help to minimise any weed and grass competition when the trees are planted.

Volunteer Martin cutting out the turf
We then marked the site with a post and coloured tape so we could find it again.

And we're ready to go!
As the trees will be planted in areas where there are grazing animals, they will need a high level of protection. In this case we decided to build tree boxes. These are quite simple but effective and sturdy structures that will protect the tree from browsing.

This is what our tree boxes will look like when they are finished
We agreed that where possible we should use our own wood and when Treesurv were in doing the felling for our shelter project, they kindly felled a few extra for us to process into tree boxes.

Scott standing next to some of the wood we were going to process and dog Mia checking how stable they were!
We were fortunate to get help from local expert Keith Threadgall who came to Corehead for the day with his mobile sawmill.

With help from Scott, Keith was able to turn a pile of logs into nearly enough rails for all of our tree boxes!

Keith and Scott loading the timber onto the mill

Keith working the mill
Scott measuring up the freshly cut rails
The finished product!
And he even had enough time to let us have a go.

Since then we've moved all the materials onto the site and have started to build the boxes. Once these are done they will be planted with a number of different tree species including Oak and Elm. Do pop across to Corehead to see the work as it's happening. The boxes that have been built to date already give you an idea of the impact that mature trees will have on this beautiful site.
Site Officer

Friday 16 October 2015

Little Firthhope: The results...

For our regular blog readers, you'll know all about the peat restoration works that we did last year up at Little Firthhope. For those of you who don't, check out these previous posts first to get an idea of what we got up to;
As part of our ongoing commitment to Peatland Action, we have to monitor the effects of the work that we did every year. In May we set up a fixed point photography survey and we revisited it a few weeks back. We decided to take photographs at 5 points which we marked and made a GPS record of. We also put in a few wooden posts to use as erosion markers. We drove these into the peat at the edge of the bog. If they were still there when we went back, then there had been little to no erosion in that area.
We were really keen to get up and see how things had progressed, especially after a full growing season. In some areas the changes were quite dramatic.
May 2015
September 2015
May 2015
September 2015
The above show how the vegetation has spread over quite a short period of time.
Where we used the jute mesh around the edges, it has really taken hold and prevented further erosion allowing re-colonisation of plants such as heather and bog cotton. We were also pleased to see that some of the sphagnum we scattered was starting to take.
Jute mesh with all sorts of plants popping through
And in some areas re-colonisation has been very vigorous!
In other areas the changes were not quite as obvious. As it has a tighter weave the sisal is harder for plants beneath to penetrate. However there were many areas where cotton grass and sphagnum were poking through.
Sisal with cotton grass
Sisal with sphagnum
Another observation was that already the materials are starting to breakdown. The jute is very fragile with it separating easily. The sisal will last longer but it too is starting to fray where it is lying in water.
It is still very early days so we will continue to monitor at Little Firthhope. One thing's for sure is we have certainly learned a lot from the experience so far!
Site Officer

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Fungi survey at Carrifran

On the 10th of October the Cylde and Argyll fungus group visited Carrifran wildwood to survey the fungi present. Our Junior Rangers joined in for the chance to learn about fungi and visit Carrifran for the first time.

Tea break
Dick with Tricholoma fulvum (the Birch Knight)

There were plenty of Deceivers ( Laccaria lacata ) who's changeable form deceived the junior rangers many times! A pioneer fungi it is often found in young regenerating woodlands (where as an ecto-mycorrhizal species -  it brings vital nutrients to the trees it partners with)  Some were brave enough to taste the Fire Milkcap (Lactarius pyrogalus) who's name gives away the experience!  

Roy Watling, who surveyed Carrifran before the first trees were planted reports:

"A successful foray on the 11th to Carrifran in the Scottish Borders yielded amongst other things a clutch of Pink-gills (Entoloma politum, E. rhodopolium and E. sericatum) and a good fruiting of Lactarius aspideus under the willow. Fungus-wise apart from the expected willow, hazel  and birch inhabitants it was instructive to find Marasmius setosus growing on hazel leaves, a less frequent host  it usually being beech; there was a good haul of small mycenoid and marasmioid fungi. A full list can be supplied to anyone interested." 

Thanks to the Clyde and Argyll fungus group for surveying Carrifran and taking the time to teach us all about the fungi we found and Richard from NTS for his assistance and taking the great photos!

Community and Education Officer.