Specialist wood and land management health & safety advice
Within Priors Wood there is a mosaic of habitats including grassland where we are encouraging wildflowers, and adjacent to the woodland is a meadow where we keep sheep in the autumn and winter. We have a wealth of woodland and land management experience, all of which is directed to maximise our land's potential as a wildlife habitat. All of our management activities have a strong health & safety component, ranging from safeguarding deadwood habitats to creating and restoring hedgerows along public rights of way (PRoW). The areas where we can offer specialist health & safety advice include the following activities:
Coppicing - Priors Wood has been coppiced for centuries and we have considerable experience of coppicing hornbeam and hazel stools. The greatest hazards are associated with coppicing 'stored' coppice stools, that is to say, stools which have grown very large and not been coppiced for some years. It is sometimes necessary for qualified tree surgeons to reduce stools in this condition, and, as always with an operation of this kind, an appropriate risk assessment is necessary.
Hedgelaying - We have experience of restoring overgrown relict hedges and laying them, and of creating hedges, along PRoWs. Overgrown stools being coppiced back to their original scale adjacent to public thoroughfares creates challenges, and needs specialist contractors and a careful assessment of the risks before proceeding. We are not aware of many companies restoring old hornbeam hedges, and the rural lanes of Hertfordshire are often walled in by neglected hedges. They can, however, be restored through careful management and an assessment of the risks in doing so. The photo is courtesy of the National Hedgelaying Society, of which Simon is a member.
Wood extraction - we have experience of coppicing and extracting wood ourselves, and have been involved through third parties with clear felling in connection with the extraction of our conifers, and the coppicing of large hornbeam stools extracted for the firewood market. We also have some experience of horselogging. Having observed these different operations we have a keen understanding of their impact on our woodland, and have noted the health & safety practices employed by different contractors. We can provide general advice to woodland owners undertaking work on their own, or when they use contractors. We have learned by experience that woodland operations can be very impactful and that hazards need to be properly assessed in advance of beginning work.
Managing Deadwood Habitats - dead wood is an essential habitat for a healthy woodland, but obviously creates its associated hazards. We retain a dead wood inventory and assess the risks of dead or senescent trees in the vicinity of PRoWs. We can help woodland owners create their own inventories, and are able to draw upon qualified aboriculturalists for detailed tree surveys as necessary.
General advice in habitat management - with experience of managing meadows, woodlands, and volunteers who have helped us to improve Priors Wood as a wildlife habitat, we can offer general health & safety advice to private individuals, companies or charities unsure of how to approach managing their environmental assets safely.