Nature reserve is given 'spage-age' Christmas present

A NATURE reserve near Wickwar is benefitting from its own Christmas present, a log forwarder which will help raise money to protect local wildlife.

The piece of machinery was bought for Lower Woods Nature Reserve by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, following a £48,000 contribution by Grundon Waste Management through the Landfill Communities Fund.

The equipment, which has been nicknamed Sarah, will help to remove heavy logs from the 700-acre woodland.

Rather than four-wheel drive, the forwarder has eight-wheel drive to make sure it can cover the wet woodland floor and a long arm to lift logs and transport them out of the wood. The logs that are removed are then cut up and sold as part of the trust’s sustainable firewood project, generating revenue that the charity can use to protect local wildlife.

Grundon chief executive officer Richard Skehens said: “At over three square kilometres Lower Woods is the largest ancient woodland in the South West.

“Grundon is delighted to support this new space-age piece of equipment to help develop the trust’s wildlife-friendly firewood business which protects this woodland through careful conservation management.”

Lower Woods warden Neil Lodge said: “Lower Woods Nature Reserve can get very wet and muddy underfoot so a tractor is simply too heavy and would get stuck in the mud.

“The forwarder is small enough to reach into muddy places but has enough power to lift the logs out of difficult to reach places, such as slopes and banks. We have started to use it already and it is making a huge difference to the amount of work we can do.”

The wood removed from the ancient woodland is part of a traditional woodland process called ‘coppicing’ which opens up the canopy enabling woodland flora to grow.

The firewood is then sold in the local area from Chipping Sodbury up to Stroud and Thornbury across to Tetbury from £80 a load plus delivery. To find out more and to purchase firewood or charcoal contact the trust on 01452 383333 or visit www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk

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