25 November 2019 ali

River Clearing #1

Boaters from the River Roding Trust spent a tiring but rewarding day out on the river today coppicing willow trees. One of the main things we want to do on the Roding project is to re-open navigation to boats along the river up to Ilford. When I tried making the journey myself last year, I was stopped by willow trees that had grown across the river and which needed chopping back. This weekend, the Trust acquired a floating work-platform raft from Johnny Paterson, which is exactly what we need to undertake lots of different kinds of works out on the river this winter and hopefully into the future. It’s stable, large enough to accommodate coppiced trees, rubbish and equipment and has a shallow draught which means it can get to most places on the river.
Yesterday, Louis Rutherford and I went upstream on our new floating platform and set to work. It was tough at first to get the raft close enough to the branches that needed cutting, but with a bit of climbing and scrambling we managed to eventually find a technique (even if it did sometimes mean sawing off the branch I was standing on!).
We managed to clear quite a big stretch of the river and also managed to get three rafts worth of willow branches. Because willow is so amazing at growing, we will be planting these in the ground at our positive trace party next weekend to establish lots more willows along the river. So we will hopefully be opening navigation along the river and helping to re-forest it at the same time…