The Thursday volunteers took advantage of the good weather this week to push ahead with the clearance of Northchurch Flats, after the extensive tree and scrub clearance.
One group proceeded with the ritual burning of the brash, while the ladies formed a sub group to build habitat piles from the logs and thinnings. They were the home-makers as you would expect. Habitat piles provide a home for small birds and mammals like lizards shrews and mice, slow-worms and numerous invertebrates, and maybe for the declining hedgehog and rabbit. They become full of life and offer year round protection for our wildlife. This is permaculture – working in harmony with nature. Take a handful of litter from the forest floor and it will be teeming with life. Take a handful of soil from the arable fields around Northchurch Farm and it will be sterile and as dead as a doornail.
Britain was once almost completely covered by woodland, and the natural cycle of dead wood breaking down and fertilising the soil to advance the growth of new trees and plants continued uninterrupted.
Since the 1930s we have lost almost half of this natural wildlife habitat to modern agricultural and lifestyle practices of tidying up, which means opportunities for the decomposers and other creatures that live in the decaying wood have been greatly compromised.
The policy of the Trust is to leave all fallen timber to rot down on the forest floor, apart from the Park which was cleared from the time of Capability Brown around 1750. Areas being restored to flowering grassland, heathland or common land are also cleared of deadwood.
Blessed are the home-makers……………
Thanks to Richard Gwilt for his contribution.