Today it is beautiful spring day, there is even some heat in the air. However this article is from only a few months ago, when life was still relatively normal. On a cold snowy Thursday, I joined our central region volunteers at Gordon Community Wood. As it turned out, this was the last volunteer session before social distancing was introduced.
The Thursday volunteers visit a variety of woodlands throughout the central borders, many of which are community woodlands. Recent activities have included tree planting, pruning and thinning, control of invasive species and path works. The volunteers have worked with Glentress Forest to assist with the maintenance of the wildlife pond. In addition to this, the volunteers assisted with making of Squirrel feeders and are helping Scottish Natural Heritage manage juniper bushes on a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
The day I joined, the volunteers were working at Gordon Community Woodland, which is mainly mixed broadleaves. Although the day started with a light covering of snow on the ground, it soon melted and we were treated to some rain later in the day.
The task for the day was brashing. Brashing is the thinning of woodland to let more light onto the woodland floor. This helps with biodiversity and new trees to be establish, as well as the ground flora.
I had never done any brashing before, and was a bit nervous during the safety brief as everyone else seemed experienced – however Lisa is friendly and approachable, so when I asked further questions she gave me a quick demo and I was ready to start. There is something satisfying about the snip, snip of removing small branches with lopers. Larger branches have to be removed using a saw, which gave my muscles a good work out.
It was pleasing at the end of the day to see how much lighter the woodlands we had worked on were and this will be even more evident once the leaves come out on the trees. The twigs and branches that we cut off were left in habitat piles for wildlife such as wrens and hedgehogs .
After lunch, Lisa took us to see the newly refurbished and re-homed willow stag. He has been tucked slightly into the trees to give him a bit of shelter. Originally made in 2011, he was in need of a wee refresh, and is now looking very fine indeed.
Borders Forest Trust will be recommencing the volunteering sessions after the regulations are lifted. This current restrictions are reinforcing how much we rely on the hard work and commitment of our volunteers. Please make sure you are registered at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive updates on when volunteering will start again. Beginners are always welcome to join.