Live and let dead wood lie

Live and let dead wood lie

Bluebells at Gutteridge Wood credit Val Borrell

Dead wood brings wildlife to Gutteridge Wood in Hillingdon

Dead wood is hugely important for woodland wildlife, providing a home for the small invertebrates that are an essential part of the wild food chain. However, in many woodlands, dead wood has traditionally been cleared away or burnt, to keep access clear for workers, and to present a neater impression to visitors. While this may look tidy, this can have a negative effect on many woodland wildlife species.

At Gutteridge Wood, London Wildlife Trust has kept dead wood in the nature reserve, making it a special place for wildlife. Regular pruning of the trees replenishes the supply of dead wood and prolongs the health and life of trees, encouraging strong growth.

Over the past year-and-a-half, a grant of more than £31,000 from Suez Communities Trust has helped the Trust improve and extend wildlife habitats at this special nature reserve.

Staff and volunteers have undertaken a wide range of conservation work, including specialised pruning to create new dead wood areas and to improve the spread and density of trees. This increases the amount of light that reaches the woodland floor, encouraging wildflowers to grow. Visit now to see carpets of woodland bluebells, buzzing with visiting bees and butterflies.

Deer-proof fencing has gone up, to protect new wildflower growth, and the team has removed invasive plant species from woodland glades. The construction of a new boardwalk for visitors allows easy access into the heart of the reserve. Species helped by this work include stag beetles, jewel beetles, micro moths, small mammals such as bank vole and wood mouse, bats such as pipistrelle, and birds such as nuthatch, kestrel and great spotted woodpecker.

Amy Warner, Senior Grants Officer at London Wildlife Trust, said: “We’d like to thanks Suez Communities Fund for this money, which has made a big difference at Gutteridge Wood. The wildlife that lives in this woodland will really benefit from the new habitats created, especially the deadwood which is such an important place for insects to live.”