Three cornered copse is the only woodland area left in the boundaries of Hove, and for that reason alone is a precious resource. A recent "twitcher" encountered in there told us how important it was for migrating birds. It's a stopover for those about to fly across the channel, feeding on the berries and insects before setting off, and a first landing for those just arriving in Spring. (More on the variety of birds in a future article!). But to preserve it as a woodland it has to be managed, just like all woodlands, or they cease to thrive and flourish, throttled by the weedy undergrowth that would spring up over only a few months.
Our park rangers are another scarce resource, and can only spend a fraction of their time thinning out the dead wood, clearing paths, cutting back the brambles and weeds that spread over the clear areas. Our council has found other priorities for their time, fewer rangers, less money and increased duties (eg moving sheep) mean they can no longer devote as much time as we would like on these woodland duties.
On one of our recent work days we thinned and cleared an area either side of the snicket which runs from Woodland Drive to Woodland Avenue, which instantly created a clearer, lighter space for the forest plants. It also looked better. Ideally we would like to keep this going through the copse, as the benefits are easily observed, but there are only so many work days in the calendar and a small team of volunteers.
In the early years of the friends, we spent many an hour pulling the plastic collars off struggling saplings which had been planted following the 1987 gale. The collars protected and helped establish the trees, but become a hindrance as they grew, harbouring damp and insects which damaged the bark on the base. Even today you can still see the occasional brown plastic strip, or a black plastic sheet wrapped around the roots in the undergrowth.
The copse was an easy dumping ground for the house building that has persisted along its boundaries over the last 70 years. At the periphery of the copse are the occasional fence posts, barbed wire, concrete blocks that we clear, left over from the builders.
In our way we try to manage this small area of woodland. If you'd like to join us, please make contact by emailing us at email@example.com