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Woodland management for birds: Birds and woodlands in Wales

Further reading

Buckley G (1992) The ecology and management of coppice woodland. Chapman and Hall, London.

Harmer H (2004) Restoration of Neglected Hazel Coppice. Forestry Commission Information Note, Edinburgh.

Harmer H and Howe J (2003) The Silviculture and Management of Coppice Woodlands. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.

Rides, glades and open spaces

Creating or maintaining rides, glades and open spaces can provide important structural diversity for priority species in woodlands, especially in those that have been managed as high timber woodlands,

or where closed canopies have suppressed shrub and field layers. They provide opportunities for a range of habitats, eg scrub edge and open ground (Table 13), beneficial to a range of birds (Table 14). Creating rides and glades also provides the opportunity to increase the quantity and type of deadwood.

Ride creation and maintenance

Rides can be developed in a number of situations; they can be planned into new woodland creation schemes, they may already exist in established woodland but need enhancing, or they may need to be created or increased in existing woodland. Particular care is required in considering creation of new open space and rides in ancient woodlands. Careful planning will take into account the needs of birds and

other taxa, as well as other objectives for the woodland, eg to avoid destabilising crops by creating new edges and rides.

A number of general principles need to be adopted to ensure that rides provide maximum opportunities for wildlife:

  • rides are wide enough to allow light to the ride surface and scrub interface (as well as access for machinery and the public if required)

  • light penetrates the wood edge to encourage a dense shrub layer to develop

  • meandering rides are provided to minimise wind funneling, provide a variety of sunny aspects and create insulated micro-climates

  • the ride edge shape and structure is as diverse as possible

  • open ground is managed to benefit ground foraging birds and other wildlife.

The ride should be at least 1.5 times wider than the height of surrounding trees to reduce shading, and arguably wider in places to allow a good depth of edging scrub to develop alongside the open herbaceous or grassy ride centre. The bordering trees should be thinned in places to provide a graduated edge, progressively more open to the ride edge. This will allow significant light penetration into the woodland edge, and so encourage a dense shrub layer to develop beneath the trees. Where the opportunity exists, early thinning of crops and the introduction of other species is beneficial. Older crops are harder to transform.

Scrub should be encouraged to develop into a dense thicket beneficial to birds. Some of the scrub will develop from the stumps of cleared trees and some from encouraging

Table 13 Features of ride, glade and open space creation and management and the resources provided for birds.

Scrub edge

Open ground

Warm insulated areas Ecotones

  • Dense structure suitable for nesting

  • High volume of leaves and twigs for foraging

  • Fruits and seeds in autumn and winter

  • Nectar sources to attract insects in spring and summer

  • Seed-bearing plants

  • Nectar sources from flowering plants

  • Open ground vegetation supports a high volume of invertebrates, eg moths

  • Increase invertebrate biomass and activity, providing increased food for birds

  • Invertebrates occur at higher densities


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