Above: plan for woodland site at Eynsham Lock - view larger image. Below: report from Nick Mottram, May 2007
A new woodland is being created between the Wharf Stream and the Thames south of Eynsham, on land owned by Oxfordshire County Council. This is just one part of a landscape and habitat creation scheme for the site, being undertaken in partnership between the County Council, the Environment Agency and the Wychwood Project.
The scheme has its origin in discussions between the Wychwood Project and local residents, who expressed a desire to create further areas of woodland accessible to the local community. The new woodland will have two parts:
- The larger part, some 3 hectares in size, has been planted with willow, which is to be coppiced at intervals of about every five to seven years to produce wood chip. The intention is to use the wood chips to as a source of heat for local County Council owned properties – part of the Council’s drive to reduce its carbon emissions and so play a small part in reducing global warming.
- A smaller area of woodland, adjacent to the Wharf Stream, is to be planted with a wider mixture of native tree species to increase the habitat diversity on the site.
To complement the new woodland, the Environment Agency has done work to improve the value of the small channel through the middle of the site as a fish spawning area. This has involved placing gravel along the stream bed and fencing off the banks from cattle to prevent their erosion and silt clogging up the areas where the young fish feed. A new ford has been created to allow willow harvesting machinery to cross the channel - more >>
Some work has already been completed: fencing has been put up to keep cattle away from the new trees, the willow planted and the work to improve the middle stream channel. There are kissing gates in the fence to allow people to walk around the edges of the woodland and alongside the streams - marked KG on the map.
Please note, there are no new public rights of way through the new woodland and dogs are to be kept under control at all times. The County Council has installed a kissing gate at the main field entrance in place of the old stile.
There are also plans for other work in the longer-term. They include pollarding of the old willows and poplars, a small footbridge across the middle channel and a pond in the corner of the field. However, these ideas are entirely dependent upon new sources of funds being found and the appropriate permissions negotiated.
- Young Wychwood Project volunteers have been planting trees alongside the Wharf Stream on the land near Swinford Lock as part of the wider woodland-creation scheme that is under way there. Click on the link at the top of this page for the slideshow.
- In contrast to the willow coppice that is to occupy most of the site, this smaller section of trees is a more traditional mix of native woodland species including ash, alder, hazel and a mix of shrub willow, dogwood and hawthorn. The new planting is intended to soften the visual impact of the industrial buildings on the northern side of the Wharf Stream as well as provide additional habitat diversity. Funding for the new trees came courtesy of eforests.
- The planned short-rotation willow coppice within the new fencing has suffered two years in a row from the heavy summer floods. The County Council, who planted this area, are discussing a further replanting with their biomass advisors. Interestingly there are signs of some first shoots of willow growing from fragments of roots that have survived the floods. This however is patchy and seems to reflect slight local variations in ground level.
- The new permissive access in this area means that people can now get close to the Wharf Stream along most of its length, and without being troubled by the cattle. Other plans for the area, including pollarding of the old willows and other access improvements, will be undertaken as and when resources can be found.
- On the morning of Saturday 7 November members of the new Countryside Action Team, which spanned the age range from 16 to 60+, met at Swinford Lock in Eynsham to clear vegetation from around 600 young trees planted earlier in the year.
The team from Oxford Brookes University.
Photo: David Miller 11/03/2010
Photo: David Miller 11/03/2010
Kissing gate leading to the new woodland area beside the Wharf Stream.