Summarise the historic use of management of woodlands

Here I want to focus on the part of Stopover which I fell in Love with first: Brashness Wood. “Brashness Wood is km east of Oxford City, centered at Grid Reference SEPSIS’S. It is on the south-western lower slopes of Stopover Hill and Is within Stopover Country Park. Stopover Hill is In the geographical area known as the Mid-vale Ridge or Upper Thames Basin and Is In the Stopover Conservation Target Area (TAVERN, I know from my work as Chair of the “Friends of Magdalene Wood”, that the site Is managed by the Oxford City Council.
The “Parks-Team” is managing the park with a team of volunteers, who are trained in copping and pillaring and they support the various “Friends” groups all over Oxford. In a document that classifies “Brashness Wood” as a “Site of Special Scientific Interest SSI) notified under Section 28 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981” the management of the wood is described as followed: “Brashness Wood has a well defined copied-with-standards structure and Is one of the few English woods which is still actively managed by this traditional method.
The greater part of the wood Is an ancient remnant of Stopover Forest with a documented history dating back to the thirteenth century. The wood Lies on poorly drained Simmering clays but Elliott limestone occurs close to the south western boundary and the presence of lime-loving plants suggests that it outcrops elsewhere in the DOD. The flora is exceptionally rich for a wood of this size with 221 recorded vascular plant species including 46 which are characteristic of ancient woodland(2). The woodland has all four layers well developed: Canopy: Oak (mature, in abundance), Field Maple (widespread), Aspen, Wild Cherry. Small amounts of: Silver Birch, Beech, Rowan and Yew. Ash is confined to newer parts of the wood (Open Brashness, recent origin derived from an open common). Shrub layer: Hazel (dominant), Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Midland Hawthorn, Crab Apple, Held Maple, Dogwood, Ash, Holly and Elm suckers (all In abundance). Smaller amounts of Guilder Rose, Wayfaring and Spindle (Southern part).

Field layer: “Rich and varied, the composition of which Is dependent on the stage of copping. Bramble dominates Buttercup (Rancorous auricles), Repine (Sedum telephone), Nettle Leaved Bellflower (Campanile treacheries), Spurge Laurel (Daphne laurel), Blackcurrant (Rib’s Ingram), Wood Meadow-grass (Pop memorials) and Bearded Couch (Olympus Canines) occur. In recently cleared areas plants such as Henbane (Housecoats Niger) and Deadly Nightshade (Troop Belladonna) may flourish for a short time. (3)” We also mind a network of sinuous rides (intersections and two ponds).
Ground: Stopover Wildlife – a local wildlife group which has studied Stopover since 1999 and has profound knowledge about the ancient woodland – has identified over 100 Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) as well as a huge variety of lichens(4). “The vegetation of Stopover has been studied by botanists for the past three hundred years and some of Britain’s earliest scientific collections were made here. The sheltered open swards, sandy banks, scrub woodland, wet flushes and stream banks of Stopover Hill are of outstanding entomological interest.
A substantial number of rare species occur here, particularly among the Dippier (true flies) and Calculate (bees, wasps and ants). The recorded total of 174 Calculate species is one of the highest in Britain and although many of these have not been seen in recent years, the area is still an important one. Stopover Hill is also of local importance for breeding and wintering birds. “(5) One of the pioneers who developed a substantial management plan was David Steel, who spent a long time in the woods studying it.
His publication “Stopover – The Natural History of a Royal Forest” which was published by himself at Brashness Farm n 1984 is a rich source of information about this beautiful woodland. He says about Brashness Wood, that “an active copping policy [which he developed] has given the wood the whole range of underworld age-classes. The extensive system of rides, provided because the wood is a public amenity, results in many flowery margins which are both attractive and of high nature conservation value. (6)” “Stopover Wildlife” refer a lot to the work of David Steel and have continued his great work.
I conducted an interview with Ivan Wright (Co-founder of the group and one of the rustles) about their substantial management plan, which goes way beyond what is taking place at the moment. I learned from that interview that modern ways of copping often destroy rare species and habitats since it has to be done in haste and for economic reasons, rather than forestallment reasons. Groups like “Stopover Wildlife” are invaluable for professional managing teams, since they can provide their unique knowledge to help preserve as many species in our woodlands as possible.
Brashness Wood is managed on a regular basis by the Oxford parks team, following a management plan for the site. The abundant Hazel is copied frequently, the trees are managed, Brambles are cleared away – all done while bearing in mind that the main goal here is the conservation of the semi-natural space where possible. Management history: “The ancient woodlands in and around Stopover Hill have been as Brashness Wood has a documented history going back to the sass’s. (7)” Elisabeth I granted Brashness College management of their 80 acre copied in 1570.
This woodland became known as Brashness Wood and had been let on a series of 21 -year leases until 1935. There is no record of copping rotation for this period. The wood as then sold to the Citizens of Oxford (Oxford City Council). “Current and past indications demonstrate the poor quality of the underworld at Brashness Wood (Fuller and Steel, 1990). Between 1920 and 1973 copping was very sporadic, and included a significant period of about 40 years in which virtually no copping was carried out (peers comma. D. Steel). Hazel was occasionally copied by gypsies around 1940.
By the sass the copied had become derelict, but a new rotational regime was introduced by David Steel; the then manager of the SSI and responsible for achieving SSI status for the reserve in 1986. 8)” Current situation: We find the following habitats in Brashness Wood Copied stands with Oak standards Areas of permanent non-intervention Ancient boundary banks Veteran trees Fallen and standing dead wood Species-rich rides Bridleways Streams Ponds Brashness Wood measures 27. Aha in total including a piece of woodland to the southeast, known as Open Brashness.
As mentioned above, Brashness Wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI). “The woodland type is a Biodiversity Action Plan (ABA) priority habitat referred to as ‘Lowland mixed broadleaved woodland’. The National Vegetation Classification (Iredell, 1991) for Brashness Wood is WWW woodland (Ash, Field Maple, Dog Mercury). Ancient semi-natural woodlands have been in existence since at least 1600. (9)” Copping was resumed at Brashness Wood in 1973, with approximately half a hectare cut yearly, depending on manpower.
In 2000 the absent Deer came back into the woodland so that it became necessary to fence the newly copied areas to prevent the Deer from browsing the new growth. Most fences have been removed now. The various rides have been mowed twice a year (Spring & Autumn) and there had been some wood chipping and burning of ember by the City Council. In 2008/9 the service was severely reduced! “The Oxford City Council ‘efficiency review of 2008/9 resulted in the Countryside Service being disbanded in January 2010 and the post of Senior Ranger being terminated. 10)”. The services would now only include mowing, path maintenance and special requests by Stopover Wildlife. I know from talking to the Parks-Team Oxford, that a group of volunteers has been formed under the guidance of one of the rangers, to carry out copping and other management tasks all over Oxford. Stopover Wildlife themselves eave started a substantial management plan and carried out most of the copping and conservation work themselves. They claim that they do the work of 5 employees on a voluntary basis (personal comment Ivan Wright, 8/11/13).
They developed a Rota Brashness Wood is poor, taking about 18 years to reach ‘Optimum’ stage The slow re-growth is mostly due to the shallow clay soil, which is mildly acidic and low in nutrients. The current emphasis for copping is on the enhancement of habitat quality for wildlife diversity [… ]. (11)” Stopover Wildlife even started experimenting tit high copping to prevent the deer from browsing and to meet the needs of invertebrates that are dependent on old copied stools.
They started the experiment in Winter 2008/2009, designating one area, where Hazel was cut at 1. 2 meters that should not be browsed by deer at all. This experiment in re-growth has not been as successful as the group was hoping, since a significant number of rods died down. This has also been discussed with the forestry commission (personal comment Ivan Wright, 8/11/13). As a control they also copied an area in the traditional way ground level) to be eaten by the deer. And in a third area, the group cut at 0. meters which “may get eaten, and this is being monitored. If, as we suspect, Brashness is mostly populated with Mutant Deer, we might get away with a fairly low copied height, which would be more desirable for the benefit of woodland flora. 4” Ivan told me in the interview that the medium copied produced shoots which were mainly left alone by the deer. He showed me a lovely night-vision photograph of a Mutant Deer browsing on the stool. The experimental area is still under monitoring.

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