Working for the Future

In 1994, working with the land-owner (Chippenham Borough Lands Charity), a volunteer group was formed to restore coppice management to Mortimores Wood. It was at least 40 years since this was last done and the wood was becoming seriously overgrown, putting the flora of the wood in danger of lasting damage.

Volunteers clearing storm damage

Ancient woodlands are also an important store for atmospheric carbon (more so than newer plantation woods), mostly in their root complexes, and especially in those of established coppice stools or pollards. In these, it is locked away for centuries – our oldest pollard oak is estimated to be over 600 years old. They can therefore help to mitigate climate change; Mortimore's Wood stores carbon estimated to be equivalent to 500 tonnes of CO2 with more added by every year's growth. It is consequently important for all such woods to be retained & maintained in the traditional way.

The aim of the Volunteers is to restore, on a non-commercial basis, the management system which resulted in this diversity, to maintain the predominant character of the wood, and to improve access to some areas. The early stages of restoration seemed to be largely destructive as a lot overgrown coppice and some immature trees had to be cut. As the work continues the regular cycle of growth and cutting has become apparent and the flowers associated with it are continuing to bloom in the years after cutting.