During the weekend we worked with saw chains. A not-so-standard activity for conservationists but much needed for the old pollard willows and the creation of suitable micro-habitats for an array of different species.
It might sound strange, but coppicing helps the old willows, it can extend their life-span by up to a 100 years! During long-term and regular coppicing the willow trunks grow to impressive sizes. In their middle appear hollow cavities that boom with life. Because dead wood = live wood. The crevices serve as refuges for birds, bats and other dead-wood dependant species.
If the branches get too big, they get too heavy for the hollow trunks and the willow breaks, leading to a death of the whole tree. Once coppicing is done, it has to be done regularly afterwards. Because of this negligence many old willows that were coppiced in the past, are dissapearing from the countryside.
The pollard willows have an extraordinary regenerative ability. They are – in the truest sense of the word – a renewable source of material. Once upon a time they were wery common and people used to coppice the branches for fire wood and basket-making.
We re-initiate pollard willow coppicing in our projects. In the lower rye island we starter willow coppicing as part of the LIFE Ostrovné Lúky project. We are glad that this year so many people from among locals as well as many volunteers joined the willow coppicing workshop!