TCV's Conservation Handbooks

Update: The Dead Good Deadwood Survey

A new Citizen Science survey is in its last stages of development before being release to the world (hopefully!) It is of course, The Dead Good Deadwood Survey. The aim of the survey is to increase knowledge and understanding of the importance of deadwood to enable community woodland groups to make sustainable decisions for their woodland management. The survey not only focuses on deadwood but also allows participants to record its associated wildlife. Whether you are part of a community woodland group looking to improve your woodland, or simply a nature enthusiast wanting to get outside, this survey is a simple and fun way to learn about your environment and how to improve it for nature and for you.

The Forestry Commission suggests that healthy woodland (broadleaf or conifer) should have three standing and three fallen pieces of large (over 20cm in diameter and over 2m long) deadwood per hectare. The survey requires participants to walk a 100m section of woodland, noting down how many pieces of large deadwood they spot on the way.

The survey also asks you to stop at each piece of deadwood and look for living things on it, such as bugs and plants. It asks you feel the texture of the wood and to estimate the stage of decay the wood is at based on the structure of the wood and the creatures you find on it.

Gathering this information means you can work out if there is a healthy amount of deadwood but also a healthy variety of stages of decay present. It’s also suggests ways in which you can improve deadwood habitats in your woodland and the survey can be repeated after these improvements to see if the biodiversity on your site has increased. The survey is perfect for someone who wants to monitor the health of a particular site, or for people who simply want to get out and explore the woods, collecting research on the way.

So far the survey has been trialed with a number of community groups and has proven to be very popular.

The first of these groups was Shadoxhurst Baden Powel Scout group, a group of twelve scouts and their leaders who had come to join TCV for an event as part of National Tree Week. The scouts were already an outdoorsy bunch, but they admitted that they didn’t know just how valuable deadwood could be. One young man commented ‘well I guess there is more to deadwood than just setting it on fire’! It was lovely to see a group of young people become captivated by the subject of rotting wood and their highlight of the day was finding a leopard slug!

The survey was then trailed with a gardening group called Space to Grow, based in Maryhill in Glasgow. Space to Grow are used to trying out Citizen Science surveys with TCV and were happy to give us their thoughts on deadwood.

Do keep an eye on TCV’s website, social media, and blog pages to hear more about the dead good deadwood survey. While you’re waiting, there is some brilliant information and resources out there all about deadwood to inspire you:

http://treesforlife.org.uk/forest/dead-wood/  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/PDF/FCPG020.pdf/$FILE/FCPG020.pdf