A magnificent mare was the centre of attention today (17 October) at Muff Glen Forest, a Forest Service woodland just outside Eglinton in County Londonderry. The gentle giant - a rare Suffolk Punch - showed-off her timber hauling skills as part of a demonstration organised by the Faughan Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme.
Horse-logging is a traditional practice of removing felled timber from woodland using horses. This method is an alternative to using purpose-built machinery. It’s easy on the eye and, in some cases, can be more environmentally sensitive. The technique was demonstrated by Noel and Stephen Donaghy of Total Tree Care, with the help of their mighty assistant ‘Imogen’.
With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Landscape Partnerships, the Faughan Valley project aims to restore and enhance the Valley’s diverse natural and built heritage. Delivered by partners Derry City Council, the Rural Area Partnership in Derry (RAPID) and the Woodland Trust, the spotlight is currently on the natural landscape and the restoration of Planted Ancient Woodland Sites.
Michael Topping, the project officer, explains: “Ancient semi-natural woodland - that’s the small fragmented remnants of woodland that once covered most of the country - is a scare resource. Most ancient semi-natural woodland was converted into farmland before 1830. However some areas were converted into commercial forest plantations during the 20th century and these are known as ‘Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites’.”
According to the Woodland Trust, the gradual and careful restoration of ancient woods planted with non-native conifers is vital for unique communities of plants and animals that are currently clinging to life. The selective thinning of conifers provides light and room for any surviving broadleaf trees and also reduces the impact of heavy shading on the woodland floor.
Michael continues: “Our project offers comprehensive advice and funding to help landowners in the Faughan Valley restore those sites, as near as possible, to their former glory. And today we’re actually demonstrating the removal of felled conifers, including Western Hemlock, using good old-fashioned horse power.
“Forest Service are to be acknowledged for their work in both restoring ancient woodland sites and protecting the features such as ancient trees that make these areas so special, and we appreciate the opportunity provided by them to demonstrate some restoration techniques to private landowners.”
Imogen’s performance was followed by an Invasive Species Workshop, intended to raise landowners’ awareness of the harmful effects of, and the need to eradicate, species such as Japanese Knotweed, Rhododendron and Himalayan Balsam.
For advice and details of funding available to restore Planted Ancient Woodland Sites contact Michael Topping on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 028 7133 7498. To find out more about invasive species contact Lisa McMenamin on the same number or email email@example.com
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About Woodland Trust
The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity championing native woods and trees. It has more than 300,000 members and supporters and its three key aims are: i) to enable the creation of more native woods and places rich in trees ii) to protect native woods, trees and their wildlife for the future iii) to inspire everyone to enjoy and value woods and trees. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free.