Pic-nic area in the forest

Pic-nic area in the forest

 
 At this time of year the QE Rangers start their maintenance programme, a long list that includes scrub control, fencing, ride mowing and replacing play equipment.
Most of these tasks can only take place in the off-season to reduce any negative effects on our visitors and wildlife.
Work has just started in all the forest picnic areas. This involves cutting back the scrub edge and removing the lower limbs from the trees around the outside of each area.  Left without management these picnic areas, which are great for both the visitors and bio-diversity, would simply close over and revert to woodland. 
 
Tractor and chipper

Tractor and chipper

 
 The QE tractor and a pto driven wood chipper are used to process the many branches which are cut with pole-saw and chainsaw. The chipper has been borrowed from Staunton Country Park and is a great way of being able to deal with the arisings without having to have a fire. The chipped material is then put into habitat piles. 
 
The end result

The end result

 
 The end result can look a little severe but with the first growth next spring the benefits will soon be realised. These open areas are remnant patches of downland that survived the planting of Queen Elizabeth Forest in the 1930’s and 40’s and as such they are key to re-populating any further open space.   
A document called the Forest Design Plan (2005-2036) has been produced to provide a vision for the future management of the forest and this is available on the QE web-site and as a hard copy from the cafe.
Developing open space and removing non-native plantation blocks are typical aims.   
 
Tractor and log splitter

Tractor and log splitter

 
  One of the by-products of the maintenance programme is timber. A proportion of this is left to provide a dead wood habitat for wildlife and the rest is sold as firewood to help raise funds for the Park. About 70 pick-up loads will have been produced by the end of the winter.
Logs, wood chip and wood for turning are all on sale from the visitor centre shop.  

 

 
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