Conservation Ecology Society students volunteer for Countryside Council for Wales

Students from the Conservation Ecology Society helped the Countryside Council for Wales with woodland management and habitat maintenance for reptiles at Nicholaston woods in the Oxwich Nature Reserve.

CCW group volunteering oxwichThe students participated in cutting large branches of ivy from some large, mature trees.  The ivy will eventually die off within about 12 months, relieving the trees from its weight which can cause large trees to blow over in strong winds.  Ivy is an important part of the woodland ecosystem; important for birds, bats and insects, thus the intent is not to remove it altogether.  They also cut back some vegetation on a bank of earth and tree roots that creates an ideal basking bank for reptiles when they start to emerge from their hibernaculums.   Too much vegetation creates shade from the warming sun so maintenance provides more wind-sheltered spots for snakes to bask.  Whilst on the visit, the group actually saw an adder in a hole on the bank, which was an exciting sighting for everyone and proving they use the bank.  Their final task was to clear pathways of vegetation and branches causing obstruction, to improve the safety for public use. The lookout point from the top of the woods gave stunning views over Oxwich and Nicholaston burrows, showing students the important mosaic of habitats that exist here.