On Sunday 19th Feb, Hadleigh Park played host to one of the regular visits by the South East Essex Conservation Volunteers. The task for the day was to remove and replace an old wirefence that is no longer kept in the cows. The group began the process of replacing it with a new cow proof fence. Once on site the group ripped into taking down the old fence, with gusto. Not long after the morning tea break, it was all done with neat rolls of old wire and a pile of posts, ready to be taken off site for disposal.
(Old fence being removed, at start of the day)
After this, stage two of the job began, with the big end posts of the fence being dug into the ground, to hold the tension of the wire fence. As this only needed part of the group the others began the job of preparing the hawthorn and blackthorn, so it could be laid into a living hedge. This is o that it can increase the cow proofing of the new fence. As the work on the next stages of the wire fence progressed, members of the group cut and removed brambles growing between the hawthorns to be laid. To produce a line of trees with space between each of them.
(Preparing the hedge, so the laying process can begin)
After this the actual laying process, of cutting through nearly all off the trees stem leaving only a thin strip of the bark and a strip of sapwood too. This was done so the tree can be pushed over and then laid down, with the cut section of stem making a graceful curve. Allowing the sap to continue to flow up the tree, and stay alive to form a living barrier.
(Cutting through the back of the stem, so the tree can be laid down to form a hedge)
As the group worked along the line of trees, laying each one on top of the next. A dense thick hedge is created.
(Pushing the cut stems into place to make the hedge)
Not only does this make a cow proof barrier, it becomes an excellent wildlife habitat in its own right. Providing a transit corridor for wildlife to move along it and a place for birds and mammals to nest or forage for food amongst the branches. In following years the cut stumps will send up new shoots, to help thicken and strengthen the hedge.
(The new fence line and hedge in place)
The map above shows, the location of where the works took place, if you wish to come and see it for yourself