Briddlesford, an ancient woodland
Every January, we invite a loyal group of enthusiastic volunteers to join us in Briddlesford, our nature reserve on the Isle of Wight, to help us maintain and manage the woodland for wildlife. Briddlesford is both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area for Conservation. The presence of rare animals and plants in our woods is a combination that’s unique within the UK, therefore it needs constant care.
It’s one the largest remaining ancient, semi-natural woodlands on the Isle of Wight and we’ve been working hard to make it a haven for wildlife for more than 20 years now. This takes a lot of hard, muddy practical work, as well as funds from our generous supporters.
Our extraordinary team of volunteers
Ian White, PTES Dormouse Officer, explains how we got so lucky to have such a brilliant group of skilled volunteers. They returned last weekend to help PTES staff for yet another year of hard work and fun. Ian tells of the sheer amount of chopping, sawing, cutting, and pruning that goes into one conservation weekend!
In 2009, I was teaching environmental management part time at a further education college. Although the college had its own woodland, it was used as a teaching area for arboriculturalists and consequently the woodland was pruned, hacked and bashed about.
As I was also working for PTES at the time, I decided to take my students to Briddlesford, our nature reserve on the Isle of Wight, to give them hands on experience in woodland management and to undertake a bit of practical work on the reserve. Roll on 11 years and the event has grown from a few students doing a bit of work on the Reserve to about 50 conservation professionals and ecological consultants coming to the Island for a practical and fun work weekend.
This year the tasks were as varied as coppicing, hedge restoration, clearing dormouse boxes, building oak posts and rail fence, tending young saplings in a tree nursery, managing sycamore and widening woodland rides. Children have been coming for several years too and now a small crèche has developed which gets to spend the weekend playing in the woods, rolling in the mud and generally having a good time. We’re delighted to be instilling a love of wildlife and nature in the next generation.
The weekend’s woodland tasks
- 46 volunteers worked for 456 hours
- 4 chainsaw operators cut down trees
- The hazel nursery was tended
- Invasive sycamore were removed
- Coppice coupes were cut
- More dormouse nest boxes were put up
- A timber bridge was replaced
- Tree guards were removed from trees that had become established
- A tree cage was built in the park land
- Two hedges were restored
Photo credits: Laura Bower, Imogen Chase, Chuck Eccleston, Ian White
Interested in helping wildlife? Keep an eye out on our events pages for upcoming trips and training courses you can get involved with, or download our guidance leaflets for specialist conservation advice. Visit our My Garden to download lots of practical advice you can do at home right now to help wildlife in your local patch.