Welcome to the Blog of Cutler´s Wood, an Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland in the Kent North Downs AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

Cutler´s is 42 hectares (ca. 103 acres) of native broadleaf woodland managed primarily as wildlife and flora habitat but also to provide some timber from coppice rotation which is used for traditional fencing and woodfuel. Adjacent to Cutler´s Wood is Cutler´s Farm, made up of the farmyard with barns and 6 hectares (ca. 15 acres) of pasture land, which presently is used for sheep grazing.

Bordering onto the Forestry Commission´s Kings Wood to the south west, privately owned Stanner´s Wood to the north west, The Woodland Trust´s Park Wood to the north and the privately owned Ridge Wood and Felborough Wood to the east, this area makes up over 2000 acres of connected woodland and one of the largest woodlands in the South East of England. This whole area was once part of a royal hunting forest for deer and boar.

Edward Hasted´s map of Cutler´s area published 1798 but showing the area apparently around 1778. Cutler´s Farm seems not to have existed yet.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Plastic, Metal & Stone

After the storm of 1987, Cutler´s was heavily replanted with ash, black walnut and wild cherry. Plastic tree shelters were used to protect these trees against deer browsing and rabbit / grey squirrel damage. These tree shelters were meant to biodegrade with time but unfortunately they have steadfastly refused to do just this. The consequence of this is that we now, over twenty years later, are faced with the cleaning up of these seemingly many thousands of shelters, both from the ground, if they split and fell off as they were supposed to, or worse still, off the tree if still attached to the stem of the tree. In the case of those still attached to the stems, they are a collection point for water, which rots the bark, or all manner of other things which fall down the tube - we even found a dead squirrel stuck down one shelter. The clean up has until now taken all winter and we are still nowhere near finished. We think it may take years still to eventually clear up last shelter. Perhaps the moral of the story here is "Never believe what´s on the label".

Some time ago I came across a number of numbered corrugated metal sheets and pieces of roofing felt laid out on the ground in a remote part of Cutler´s. I assumed these to be reptile shelters i.e. places where slow worms, lizards and adders would crawl (slither?) under if disturbed. After a little research and e-mailing various reptilely people, I found out that these were part of a reptile survey being carried out by Kent University which has been ongoing for the last four years. They had got a little lost, as they thought they were on the Forestry Commission land of King´s Wood but I think if I can help the survey in any way then I will and the shelters can stay where they are. If you do come across these shelters, please do not disturb them or turn them over as this would disturb the inhabitants.

It was while in the immediate area of these reptile shelters, that I recently came across a somewhat mysterious stone. The stone is under some yew trees in the corner of the boundary of Cutler´s Wood and is engraved with the letters "CH". The back of the stone has three flat surfaces and on the top front is a small hollow as shown on the photograph. I have found another worked stone in Cutler´s at a circle of flint stones affectionately known by myself as the Druid´s Circle. What the origins of this stone are and to what (or to whom) "CH" refers is a complete mystery. If anyone has any ideas, I´d be happy to hear them.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Felling in February

We have been felling trees in several areas of Cutler´s during the last few weeks. Two acres of mixed woodland have been felled for the firewood market, we have felled and brought back into rotation 1 acre of chestnut coppice with some good post and rail fencing material as a result and we have felled 15 stems of older chestnut which were stored on around 35 years ago. All the older stems were shake free with some premium quality resulting which we hope will go for veneer and the furniture industry. There has been some interest in this higher quality material for export to France and Italy, where historically chestnut has been used more than in the British market.
Despite the sometimes awful weather of the last few weeks, Spring is on its way, with the bluebells 8-9 cms out of the ground.