Kirkwood and Little Wood have both been designated as SBIs. They are sites of biological importance. The presence of indicator species such as Dog’s Mercury tell us that this area has been woodland for many centuries. During that time the composition and the structure has changed. For centuries it seems likely that they would have been dominated by oak trees. Place names locally are reminders of that: Oakwood Hall, Oakwood Mill.
In the past, oaks have been felled for timber. Instead of more oaks, beech trees were planted. Why beech trees ? They grow faster and can be cropped earlier. However, while they do support wildlife, the ecosystem can be less diverse than an Oak Woodland. As a result, the management of Kirkwood involves active intervention to increase the possibilities for an extended range of plants and animals.
The current management plan has attracted grants from the Forestry Commission.
Visitors can see evidence of the work being done throughout Kirkwood.
Overlooking the Walled Garden, a Beech tree has been felled.
The standing stump and the logs around it’s base will provide a microhabitat for a range of plants and animals. Over time the wood will rot. Fungi will germinate and spread contributing to the decomposition and decay. Beetles will make their homes in any crevasses that develop. To give this process a helping hand and accelerate colonisation, cuts have been made into the stump with a chain saw. Starter homes.
Beetles attract birds. They will forage among the stumps for food. Stumps, rotting wood and the beetles, all part of the mix for a woodland rich in wildlife. This woodland ecosystem provides a valuable habitat for birds. Some are resident, others passing through; siskins feed here, blackcaps breed. Mandarin ducks nest high in the branches. Flocks of hirondelles 60 strong swirl above the river feeding.