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The ProgrammeFuelling a Revolution
Finding Out More About the Woods

Survey and Monitoring

Although some aspects of the Heritage Woodlands are very well recorded, others are less so. In these cases, further information is needed, both because this is of interest in its own right and because it is required when making decisions over woodland management.

Surveys
During the Fuelling a Revolution programme, three main kinds of survey are taking place.

Site of manor house at Glen Howe Park
The old tennis court in Glen Howe Park is thought to be on the site of a medieval manor house.

1. Archaeological Surveys
Because of the great age of the Heritage Woodlands and the long relationship between these and man, the woodlands contain a large number and wide variety of archaeological features. Some of these, such as charcoal hearths and whitecoal pits, are relics of the times when the woodlands were a valuable source of products for building, agriculture and industry. Others, including ancient settlements, trackways and quarries, though less directly associated with the woodlands themselves, can yield valuable information about the use of the area in the past.
Archaeological surveys of the Heritage Woodlands are carried out in three phases.

  • Firstly, a desktop survey is undertaken, in which old documents and maps, as well as more recent archaeological reports, are searched thoroughly for any reference to archaeological features already found in the woodlands.

  • Following this, teams of experienced archaeologists walk all parts of the sites, recording any features evident on the ground. This process has revealed a wide variety of features, including old field systems, quarried areas, charcoal hearths, trackways, boundary banks and walls.

  • Finally, for those woods in which desktop or ground surveys have revealed features of special interest, further surveys are undertaken in which these features are measured, mapped and described in greater detail. Such places include ancient settlements and fortified camps such as those at Canklow Wood and Scholes Coppice in Rotherham.

 
Fungus Survey
In the autumn, fungi are a common feature in many of the Heritage Woodlands.

2. Wildlife surveys
Knowing which plants and animals live in a woodland, and within different parts of the same woodland, is both of interest in its own right and vital when making decisions on woodland management and access work.

The Heritage Woodlands are home to a large number and wide variety of plant and animal species. Some of these are well recorded but others are less so and in these cases, surveys are being carried out.

Although the trees and shrubs of the woodlands, and sometimes the birds and flowering plants are often well recorded, plant and animal groups for which additional surveys are frequently needed include mosses, liverworts, lichens and ferns and invertebrates, amphibians and bats. In some woodlands however, very few records existed at the start of the programme and as a result comprehensive wildlife surveys are being carried out.
Visiting the Gleadless Valley's Woodlands
The Heritage Woodlands are well used by a wide range of people.

3. User surveys
When planning woodland management and access work, it is also sometimes necessary to gather information on the types and numbers of people that use the woodlands and the kinds of activities for which they use these. When this information is required, user surveys will be undertaken.

Monitoring

It is not sufficient to carry out one survey of a site and then to assume that nothing will change following this. Ongoing monitoring enables an assessment of how the woods have developed during and after woodland management work and gives a picture of how this has affected the historical and archaeological character, landscape, community use and wildlife of the woodlands.

Monitoring may be carried out simply by repeating wildlife, archaeological or user surveys at regular intervals. In selected areas however, for example in glades created by woodland management work, photographic monitoring is being used. This involves taking photographs of the same area from the same position at regular intervals and comparing these to detect changes over time.

When monitoring the impact of woodland management work on wildlife, particular attention is being paid to scarce and diminishing species, such as the purple hairstreak butterfly, bats, and the birds, song thrush, tree sparrow and turtle dove.

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