THE YORKSHIRE Wildlife Trust is continuing its management of Stoneycliffe Wood Nature
Reserve at the top end of Coxley Valley by felling some of the sycamores. The saying
‘you can’t see the wood for the trees’ applies here because the herb layer and shrub
layer are as much a part of a woodland ecosystem as the trees and opening a gap in
the canopy will let the light and air through, allowing the understorey to regenerate.
As with the recent ‘chainsaw massacre’ by the River Calder, some locals are very
upset to see mature trees sacrificed but the selective felling should improve the
long term health of the wood.
Although sycamore isn’t a true native and can therefore be regarded as something
of a ‘weed’ in native woodland, it isn’t without wildlife value: for instance the
thousands of aphids that feast on its sappy leaves in spring provide a food supply
for nesting warblers, tits and wrens.
I’m told that bramble has been amongst the first of the herb/shrub layer plants to
regenerate. The Trust might have preferred to see bluebells, wood anemones and wood
sorrel but bramble has plenty of wildlife value . . . and it’s a native.
Sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, a native of continental Europe