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The Management of Alnmouth Village Pond Woodland

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As part of my university placement year with the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, I have written a management plan for Alnmouth Village Pond Woodland for the Burgage Holders which, in brief, includes coppicing the woodland, creating a small wildflower meadow and opening up a couple of viewpoints over the pond. This was the first project I was assigned with after starting my placement at the end of September 2015 and, what seemed like a daunting task at first, has developed into an exciting prospect and an education for me and hopefully for the people of Alnmouth too.

As part of my university placement year with the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, I have written a management plan for Alnmouth Village Pond Woodland for the Burgage Holders which, in brief, includes coppicing the woodland, creating a small wildflower meadow and opening up a couple of viewpoints over the pond. This was the first project I was assigned with after starting my placement at the end of September 2015 and, what seemed like a daunting task at first, has developed into an exciting prospect and an education for me and hopefully for the people of Alnmouth too.

With invaluable advice and guidance from the Iain at the AONB and George from the Burgage Holders (who now claims I am an expert on the matter!), I somehow managed to draw up a management plan for the woods with the vision of benefitting animals, birds and plants and creating viewpoints overlooking the pond to make visitors feel included and part of the management. My plan for the woodland is to introduce a rotational coppicing regime to open up the canopy to encourage the growth of woodland flowers and transforming the woodland floor into a carpet of colour as it adapts in the years that follow. The wood will be divided into 4 coups, which can be managed on rotation each year, producing a varied height structure, making it a more suitable habitat for more species of birds, invertebrates and mammals. The regrowth of a coppiced tree will also provide a vital habitat and protection for nesting birds. The coppicing method I have suggested to use is ‘coppicing with standards’ – this means that some of the bigger trees will be left standing to provide perches for song birds that will also use the coppiced stools for nesting.

My other plan for the area is to create a wildflower meadow in the south-west corner, next to Marine Road. This small area is currently overgrown with tall grasses but has huge potential to be home to a vibrant array of wildflowers, which will attract butterflies, bees and other invertebrates, which then attract the birds and mammals. To manage this area effectively, I have written in the plan to introduce a mowing regime once a year and to remove the grass cuttings as wildflowers thrive on nutrient poor soils. There may already be wildflower seeds in the soil, laying dormant for such an opportunity for them to grow, but I have also suggested that native plug plants or wildflower seeds could be sourced and planted/sown to establish a healthy community of flowers and a rich source of niches for countless species.

This is a pond and woodland at the heart of a tight-knit community which is why I have also suggested clearing a couple of areas overlooking the pond. These areas already exist but require a bit of management to achieve the best views over the pond and out to the North Sea and would provide stunning views and a sense for locals and visitors alike, that they are part of the management intentions. There is also opportunity to install another bench at one of the viewpoints and also some form of interpretation, again to involve and educate residents and visitors.  

Alnmouth Village Pond Woodland really has exciting potential and I am truly grateful for being involved with its management. I look forward to seeing its transformation over the years to come and hopefully it will be a key feature of the village for generations.

By Rory Straker,

Conservation & Land Management Placement Student,

Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership.

3rd Year Harper Adams University Student

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