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Dodgson Wood from HDDN on Vimeo.

 

This is the first in a series of videos produced by Cumbria Woodlands as part of our Heritage Lottery Funded ash heritage project: ASH ECOLOGY AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF CUMBRIA - A RESPONSE TO ASH DIEBACK.

 

Five questions with project manager Clare de Villanueva:

 

How does what you’re doing at Dodgson Wood fit into the larger ash project as a whole?

Dodgson Wood represents a fairly typical lakes woodland, with ash as a part of a species mix. This trial site is looking at ash in a protected woodland setting (it’s a SSSI). Our other trial sites incorporate ash in a productive woodland, as pollards or coppice. There is a long history of management in the Dodgson Wood area, as evidenced by the archaeology, and this has heavily influenced the species mix present there now.

What is the purpose of the exclosures?

Historical management plus grazing, has resulted in a woodland that is not particularly diverse and has many trees of a similar age. When combined with thinning of the canopy by felling several oak trees, the exclosures provide opportunity for natural regeneration. This thinning increases the amount of sunlight reaching the forest floor, which lets other plants and trees grow, as long as you keep the deer and sheep out!

What are your hopes for the Dodgson Wood trial?

We'd like ash seedlings to regenerate naturally, and they’ll be protected from grazing animals by the fence. We anticipate that a small proportion of this natural regeneration will show some form of tolerance to ash dieback. Natural regeneration is ideal, because it results in genetic variety from the different seeds, so it is more likely that some saplings will show tolerance to the disease. If a woodland has a high diversity of species and ages, then it's more robust to future challenges such as pests, disease and climate change.

Which other organisations have you worked with on this part of the project?

We have worked closely with the National Trust – their knowledge and expertise is invaluable and they were happy to get involved with the project, letting us use their land and donating their time. We worked with Rusland Horizons’ apprentices for a few fun and productive days in March. They provided the skills and labour to successfully erect the deer exclosures. Natural England were also helpful with advice and support, especially with the site being a SSSI.

What's next for the ash project?

We have a number of other trial sites running which aim to represent different environments where ash grow in Cumbria. There will be a series of videos one for each trial site to cover coppice, productive woodland and pollards. Watch this space!

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