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.
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.