If you go down to Coppice Woods today…

I’ve been contacted by a few people lately who’ve been worried about the woodland management and scrub removal ongoing in Coppice Woods (formerly Goblins Wood) just off Green Lane, between Walsall Wood and Shelfield.

Over a period of weeks, workers have systematically cleared the holly and birch scrub, and cut back on some low tree growth, and the result, to anyone used to visiting, is quite a shock.

I understand the work – sanctioned by Natural England – is necessary for the long term health of the wood which is of great environmental importance to the area, being as it is the last trace of oak and holly woodland that once dominated the area. This is a habitat for many species, including owls and mustelids, and I know many locals, as I do, feel greatly protective towards it.

To put folks minds at rest, I contacted local nature expert and environmental wise owl Chaz Mason, whom I know wouldn’t support anything unnecessary in such an important habitat on his patch.

Chaz said:

The woods were becoming almost a monoculture of Holly with a substantial amount of rotting birch. I know that it looked like ‘Narnia’ but it was not a healthy or vibrant environment. The changes that have been made should allow for a much richer ground flora as well as increasing the diversity of insects and breeding birds.

All wildlife conservation is about management, if we don’t manage it, it will naturally progress to a climax vegetation. Brownhills Common is a perfect example. We should be supporting one of the rarest habitats in western Europe (lowland heath) but as there was no management after the fires in 76 it has been allowed to develop into scrub woodland and in places is already passing through the primary (birch/willow) stage and young Oaks are developing.

I am an old git and don’t like change myself and also understand that to people with only a casual interest in the eco-system, the removal of trees can appear to be heresy but the truth is that the more diverse a habitat is, the healthier it becomes so – for good or bad the work gets a ‘tick’ from me.

Thanks to Chaz for that – for more of this good sense, do bookmark his blog and read it regularly: nobody has more knowledge of Clayhanger Marsh and it’s environs than he does. And he’s a top bloke, too.

Chaz has recently expressed a very strong view on the abuse of Ryders Mere and Clayhanger Marsh by particular parties and I support him in this wholly: whilst I also support the riding school and the work it does, the environment we all share has to be respected.

For what it’s worth the work being done at Coppice Woods is of a very high standard and it’s nice to see the bug and small mammal habitats that have been made from cut brush on the ground. Also, when visiting yesterday, I noted a rookery on the eastern edge of the wood which I’ve not noticed before.

The wood will soon recover and will, I know, be improved in the long run.

Thanks to Chaz for his help, and I hope this alleviates some of the concerns readers have expressed. If you have anything to say, please do comment: either comment here or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.

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11 Responses to If you go down to Coppice Woods today…

  1. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    pleased to see that the Coppy Woods have been receiving some TLC and thanks to those concerned.The unusual ditch, parallel to the lane has always intrigued me…bit wide for a normal ditch..
    Many happy childhood summer holiday hours , engaged in numerous”battles to save the world” etc, were spent there. interesting Victors’ trophies
    kind regards
    David

  2. aerreg says:

    thanks for the memory again three things have gone through my mind first the wood if i recall we called it SNAPES wood next to it was i think was wards farm further down was jockey styles why i recall at each point was a street light siwty watt and a good target for stone throwing and never lasted a week happy days sorry for the gobbly goo god bless

  3. Oh what wonderful memories I have of Coppice Woods, as children in the summer holidays we would play for hours , not a care in the world, can any1 remember the beautiful bluebells that was like a blue blanket covering the coppice floor. In my fathers younger days he worked at the wards farm, don’t know if anyone remembers Clem Timmins from Shelfield. I now live in South Wales And came across this web site by chance, I love it it keeps me in touch with my routs. Thank you for all the hard work you put into this siteXX

    • David Evans says:

      Hi Jeany
      does the name Ron Smith ring a bell?
      David

      • Hi David, I new a Gordon Smith from Shelfield who was friends with my parents, but not sure about Ron! So can you give me some idea of the connection Jeany X

        • David Evans says:

          please read the blog articles on Royall Oak..He helped on Wards farm during the war
          regards
          David

          • Many thanks for that intriguing information David, My father was at the farm at the beginning of the war I can remember him saying the farm court fire at one point I am wondering if Ron Smith would have helped to save the farm along with my father.
            Changing the subject, I have looked at photos of the 1st snap of Walsall Wood Boys Brigade, my late husband is in the photograph 3rd row 6th on the left Les Brookes. I wonder if anyone would know him. I also spotted myself on a school photo in Norton Canes Jean Timmins. Thank you again for all your hard work keep blogging regards Jeany X

  4. Caz says:

    I’ve been hearing the chain saws going since well before Christmas,so steered clear, but i always take a Christmas morning walk in the woods and was pleasantly surprised at the work being done.Been in again since, at weekends when i know no one is working and I also love the way the logs have been stacked to assist wildlife. Many years ago while walking the dog we came across a young owl that couldn’t fly,it didn’t look injured so we left it ,hoping it would fly away, but popped back from time to time to check.Several hours later it was obvious it wasn’t going anywhere and with dusk approaching we worried a fox might kill it so took it home and put it in our shed. The RSPCA collected it during the night and i often wonder if it survived and was released back there. We also went in there one day and could smell burning, and there were tiny flames flickering from underground, covering quite a big area. i called the fire brigade and they doused the area, But a couple of days later there was still smoke coming up and the ground was really hot to walk on.When we brushed away the surface layer of peat, there were still flames . It was almost like the fire was traveling slowly underground, Fire services came back and sorted it, but a lot of trees uprooted in that area [ toward the back, right hand side] and came down blocking some of the pathway, so it’s lovely now that the walkways are opened up again.I know the deer go in there, we’ve seen their prints, so wonder what they make of it all. Many happy childhood memories playing in there, and taking my own kids to play.Rope swings and hide and seek,

  5. John Anslow says:

    What an interesting discussion. I’ll add my two penn’orth, if I may.

    (i) Reg mentions Snape’s Wood. Walter Snape farmed at what is now Grange Farm in the early 1900s before moving to Fairy Field(?) farm, which used to stand on what is now Allens Lane in Pelsall.

    (ii) Alderman Mrs Sally Ward lived at Grange Farm and was also Member of Parliament for Cannock between 1931 and 1935; she was known as “The Farmer’s Wife MP”. Dad used to speak quite highly of her.

    (iii) Jeany mentions a Timmins family in Shelfield. My great-grandfather was Joseph Timmins and his family lived in and around that area, his son Jim being there till the 1970s. I’m afraid, however, I’ve never heard tell of a Clem Timmins.

  6. aerreg says:

    just another gobly goo snippit on the woods in green lane a wood of adiferant kind comes to mind the timber yard of arthur titley further down he was an interesting character as i recall after the war he used to recycle war time instrement boxses i recall he gave he a hitch hike life lift home one week end when i was in the RAF was well known in shelfield a popular chap happy days thanks for the memory god bless

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