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The ProgrammeFuelling a Revolution
More information - Scholes Coppice & Bray Plantation
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   management work
SCHOLES COPPICE & BRAY PLANTATION - MANAGEMENT

INTRODUCTION
Management work in the two woodlands is undertaken by, or on behalf of, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, the site owners.

A management plan was first prepared for Scholes Coppice in 1993. The most recent management plan for the site was prepared in 2002 as part of the Fuelling a Revolution programme.

TREES AND WOODLANDS
Until 1993, the majority of Scholes Coppice had been unmanaged for several decades. As a result, the plantation areas in particular were in a very poor condition, with very few young trees and with ancient woodland indicator plants being lost because of the dense shade cast by the trees.

Dense regrowth of Sweet Chestnut in an area where felling of large trees has taken place in the recent past.

In 1994, a programme of woodland management was reintroduced; the mature trees in a number of small areas being felled in order to let light reach the woodland floor. The result of this is now visible in the form of greatly increased growth of young trees which will ultimately become replacements for the aging trees in the woodland canopy. The aim of this work is to encourage the development of a woodland with trees of a variety of ages and sizes and a mix of species, especially of native trees such as Oak, Birch, Hazel, Ash and Wild Cherry. The work will also extend the lifespan and improve the quality of some of the better formed existing trees and has also resulted in considerable benefits for wildlife. Similar work is now continuing in places in the form of selective thinning and group felling of Beech, Sweet Chestnut and Sycamore.

Outside the plantation areas, work will be directed at maintaining and strengthening the character of the more semi-natural parts of the site. Some thinning and group-felling will be carried out in order to extend the life of the best formed trees, in particular, of Oak, Beech and Ash, and to promote regeneration of young trees. The non-native species, Sycamore will be particularly favoured for removal. The central area, with its 30 - 40 year old Oak and Birch trees, together with the narrow woodland extension along Scholes Lane may also benefit from thinning. Apart from this, these areas will largely be left alone in order to preserve them as a wildlife refuge, in particular for breeding birds.

Although Scholes Coppice was once managed as coppice woodland, there is no surviving coppice within the woodland today. Reintroduction of coppicing other major parts of the site would be unrealistic because of the present woodland structure and the relative absence of typical coppiced shrubs such as Hazel. However, coppicing will be carried out along the edge of Raspberry Plantation in order to provide a graded margin from mature woodland to farmland which will form a a structurally diverse habitat for wildlife, including several of the priority bird species breeding at the site. Similarly, some of the other woodland edges will be managed so that they grade into adjacent areas of open space, something that benefits the birds and animals that live in this important 'edge habitat'.

NON-WOODED AREAS
The two small wetland areas at the northernmost tip of the site are an example of an important and rapidly disappearing habitat. They will be left largely unmanaged in order to avoid unnecessary disturbance to the wildlife associated with them.

The gradual removal of mature trees from Caesar's Camp over the next 15 years to protect the ancient monument will create a permanent glade within the woodland. This will be maintained as an open grassy area with scattered scrub, providing an additional habitat supporting more light demanding woodland edge species.

Similarly, the glade in the northern part of Bray Plantation will be kept open by the periodic removal of invading trees and shrubs meaning that it retains its value for light-demanding plants and the invertebrates associated with these.

BIODIVERSITY
In order to assist in the preservation of its wildlife, Scholes Coppice and the adjoining flower-rich grassland of Keppel's Field were designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1996. The site supports several animal species protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Both woods will be managed to conserve and enhance their natural history and to maintain or increase their populations of key plants and animals. The latter include Hare, two species of bat, Song Thrush, Linnet and Bullfinch and a number of invertebrates including the butterflies, Comma, Purple Hairstreak, Holly Blue and Speckled Wood and at least seven species of moth. Particular attention will be paid to the management of areas used by these species. These include the ponds and wet woodland areas and the central area Scholes Coppice which will be left largely unmanaged. In order to minimise disturbance to the wildlife, access to these areas will also be discouraged.

A varied woodland structure is important for invertebrates, with well developed field and shrub layers and a mixed height canopy providing a greater range of opportunities than even-aged structurally uniform woodland. Encouraging the development of shrubs will help populations of both invertebrates and birds. Both standing and fallen deadwood are of value as a habitat for fungi, invertebrates, hole-nesting birds and bats and wherever possible, these will be retained.

In order to provide further information on the wildlife of the woods, further surveys of the area's fungi, mosses, invertebrates, birds and bats will be undertaken.

HISTORY AND HERITAGE
Work will take place to protect features of archaeological and historic interest.

Foremost among these is the Iron Age site of Caesar's Camp, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. This has, in recent years, suffered from inappropriate recreational use, including the riding of mountain bikes and motorbikes. There is also concern about the damage being caused by mature trees growing on the earthwork. Over the next five years, it is hoped to have the existing dedicated footpath crossing the monument re-routed in order to further reduce erosion of the site.

Further research will be undertaken into the archaeology of the woodlands, following which features of archaeological and historical interest will be preserved as appropriate.

ACCESS AND RECREATION
Both Scholes Coppice and Bray Plantation are popular places for both formal and informal recreation. Walking is probably the most common informal activity taking place but other activities include mountain biking, horse riding, natural history study, environmental education and motor cycling.

Since 1990, all the formal access points into the woodlands and Keppel's Field, have been provided with gates or stiles, including at the Willows entrance, a disabled access stile. These formal access points will continue to be maintained whilst the use of other informal access points is discouraged through the strengthening of existing boundaries. Hopefully these renewed boundaries will continue to help to deter motorcyclists and those responsible for fly tipping and the abandonment of burnt out cars. They will also keep out grazing animals that might eat young trees.

Similarly, official paths and bridleways within the woods will be maintained and waymarked with the use of other casual footpaths being discouraged in order to reduce disturbance to the site and its wildlife. A particular focus of access work will be to provide access for less able-bodied persons where this is practical.

Alongside this access work, the community around the woodlands will be actively encouraged to become involved in the care and management of the woodlands and in its enjoyment of wildlife and the countryside. The local community will continue to be consulted and kept informed about the management of the woodlands and will also be encouraged to play a practical role in the management of the site, both by taking part in practical management tasks and by keeping an eye on the woodland. A group, 'Friends of Scholes Coppice' currently exists to pursue such work..

The potential of the site as an educational and environmental arts resource is being developed through guided walks, events relating to the natural history and historic interest of the site, children's events and practical management tasks as well as by the production of leaflets and this education pack.

MORE INFORMATION

More general information on the management of the woodlands and other habitats and on access improvements is given elsewhere on this website.

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