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Pollarding Willows with the OCV

I usually read through the Environmental Sustainability Newsletter every month, but in January one item stood out: Willow Pollarding. I’ve often wondered why willows are cut back to make such odd shapes, and here was the chance to find out. The Oxford Conservation Volunteers were going to spend one Sunday pollarding the willows along the river Thames in an area called Aston’s Eyot, just downstream from Univ’s boathouse. No experience or tools were necessary, so I signed up.

A fine January day started with a briefing for all around fifteen volunteers. We were told that pollarding extends the life of trees by encouraging new growth and preventing the trunks from splitting. The pruning also helps maintain clear views of the river and makes life easier for rowers by removing overhanging or submerged branches. After a few words on health and safety, small teams were allocated trees and we set to work.

One volunteer climbed up into the crown of the tree and began sawing off branches, while the others passed up tools and collected the branches into neat piles to create new habitats for wildlife. The work was physical enough that no-one felt the cold but we enjoyed sitting down to tea and sandwiches feeling like we’d accomplished something useful on our Sunday.

Elizabeth Adams, Librarian

Find out more or volunteer with the Oxford Conservation Volunteers at ocv.org.uk

Sign up to the Environmental Sustainability Newsletter (versions available for staff, students and those working in lab environments) at sustainability.admin.ox.ac.uk or follow them on Twitter @OxfordEnvSust

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Univ will continue reporting on sustainability initiatives from across College so please look out for these on our dedicated Sustainability at Univ page, our News Hub and social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Published: 16 March 2022

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