Last week members of the A303 Stonehenge project team stepped out of the office and into the wild for a day of volunteering – doing their bit for the Wiltshire countryside.
The team of 12 arrived at Devenish Nature Reserve last Wednesday (16 October 2019) and got straight to work coppicing hazel trees, a traditional method of woodland management – which increases light levels and helps plants, and wildlife thrive.
This technique aids with the timber process that happens each year, creating opportunities for regular harvest in a way that prolongs the life of the tree.
Pieces of hazel cut were used to create fences around the stumps, to protect new growth from being eaten by deer. The team fenced off a total of 7 stumps during their time. No cuttings were wasted either, anything too small to be used for fencing was used to create a ‘bug hotel’ for insects, and smaller rodents.
Richard Death Volunteer Warden for Devenish Nature Reserve has been volunteering for 30 years. He said: “The Highways England team worked hard, and I was absolutely delighted with results from the day. I am extremely grateful to the team for getting out of the office to support Wiltshire woodland spaces.
“Conservation voluntary work is great for mental and physical health – volunteers here get to enjoy the open air surrounded by the natural world, with friendly, and social people. Throughout the day there was a lot of hard work going on, but there was also a lot of laughter and chat – this area has benefited significantly from it.”
Kate Hunt, from the A303 Stonehenge team said: “Richard was so enthusiastic, sharing his knowledge of trees and fungi with us and the team of 12 had a fantastic time burning off excess energy with saws, loppers and hand knives.
“The end of the day came far too soon but we really made a huge difference to the woodland. I would have no hesitation in recommending others to get involved with volunteering opportunities if they have some free time to give.”