WATCH: Something strange stirs in Natterer's Wood

PUBLISHED: 14:31 18 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:07 18 March 2019

Remote-controlled woodland flail  Picture: Nick Sibbett

Remote-controlled woodland flail Picture: Nick Sibbett


A community woodland group in Bury St Edmunds has been relying on an unusual piece of equipment to clear brambles.

Woodland Ways has planted more than 5,000 trees in Natterer's Wood since 2001Woodland Ways has planted more than 5,000 trees in Natterer's Wood since 2001

Woodland Ways, which looks after Natterer’s Wood, has been making use of a remote-controlled flail, which is able to get in amongst the densely packed alder, silver birch, field maple and oak.

“We planted five thousand trees in Natterer’s Wood from 2001 to 2008”, said Nick Sibbett, chair of Woodland Ways.

“Unfortunately, in part of the wood there is a bramble explosion and these are swamping out the trees we planted.”

Mr Sibbett said the trees are too close together for a tractor-mounted flail and there are too many brambles for hand-held tools to be used. The remote-control flail is operated using a hand-operated controller, which can make the machine weave in and out of the trees, turning the brambles into shreds.

READ MORE: Call goes out for environmental champions as Suffolk’s Green Oscars return

The use of the machine was made possible through the Bury St Edmunds Tesco Bags of Help schemeThe use of the machine was made possible through the Bury St Edmunds Tesco Bags of Help scheme

The brambles have been cleared before the bird nesting season begins, which normally starts in early March, and Woodland Ways volunteers have kept an eye out for any early-nesting birds in the brambles, such as whitethroat, robin and blackcap.

Mr Sibbett is keen to emphasise that brambles are also an important habitat for wildlife and for blackberry picking, and that only a small proportion of the brambles in Natterer’s Wood were cut down, just where the trees were threatened by dense tall growth

“When we discovered that Urban Forestry in Ingham had one of these machines, we were ever so pleased because it meant that we could get the right tool for the job,” continued Mr Sibbett, who said the cost of the work is £2160, of which £2000 has been provided by the Tesco Bags of Help scheme.

READ MORE: Coppicing volunteers are the latest in a long line of guardians of the ancient wo​ods

He added: “People voting for Woodland Ways in Bury St Edmunds Tesco are responsible for this work, which is excellent news for all the wildlife that the trees will support for centuries to come.”

Woodland Ways manages four woodlands in the Moreton Hall area of Bury St Edmunds, including Natterer’s Wood, which is named after the Natterer’s bats that hibernates in old chalk caves nearby - is the biggest.

Woodland Ways is a registered charity and relies ion its volunteers for most of its work, with work parties held monthly. Around 10 – 20 people regularly help at work parties. See for further details.

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