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4 young apprentices are helping manage sweet chestnut woodland at the National Trust’s Borthwood Copse, near Sandown, as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund supported project. 

The apprentices have been getting hands-on experience of coppicing, a traditional way of managing trees to create more habitat variety in the wood. Coppicing lets in light and warmth for woodland flowers and insects, and as the coppice stools re-grow they provide good feeding and nesting habitat for dormice and woodland birds like chiff chaff, blackcap and dunnock.

The wood by-product is being turned into local and sustainable fencing products including stakes, strainers, struts and rails for National Trust sites across the Island.

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Robin Lang of the National Trust said:

“We really enjoy working in partnership with the Wildlife Trust because it’s good to share resources, and be part of this initiative teaching young people new skills. We’ve been impressed by how hard working the apprentices are – working in all weathers and helping us to get so much done.”

Shaun Grant, Woodland Apprentice at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust added:

“Working with the National Trust at Borthwood was a great experience, learning about the production of sweet chestnut posts. We helped them produce the posts by splitting 7 or 8ft lengths of chestnut with a wedge and maul, and debarking the posts with a drawknife or a barking spade. Working with the National Trust gave us great insight into the production of the hundreds of posts that can be found on National Trust and Wildlife Trust reserves.”

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