Thursday, 16 January 2014

A Busy Woodland Year

January 16th 2014

Today, Sarah and Sue celebrate 1 year's  ownership of an additional  piece of woodland. Known as  Old Copse 2,  it is the 15 acres adjoining, and directly to the north of the 15 acre Old Copse 1, which was purchased in mid 2009.

We spent some of the past year researching, planning, writing a management plan and locating grants for the improvement of this long neglected piece of woodland.  During the coming year we hope that this work will start bearing fruit. For all potential small wood-owners who might read this, below are the main points of what we’ve achieved so far.

  1. Produced a 5 year Management Plan
  2. Set up a programme of deer management with qualified and experienced stalkers, having drawn up a working agreement approved by the Deer Initiative.
  3. Obtained full planning permission for a new entrance and track into Old Copse 2 from the east boundary road.
  4. Obtained Permitted Development approval to build a traditional round-wood log cabin, using the timber in the wood.
  5. Obtained a useful sum of  Grant aid over the next 5 years.
  6. Had discussions with a number of forestry contractors on how best to reduce the Scots Pine plantation. Slow progress but at least we are now very familiar with the pros, cons, and costs.  
  7. Attended 2  Bentley Woodfairs  and made  useful  contacts.
  8. Joined SWOG (Small Woodland Owner’s Group)
  9. Discussion with a wood-skills group leader with a view to running  ‘Forestry School’, and woodcraft  sessions for children and young people. 
  10. Met a potential volunteer with expertise in hedge-laying. We’re planning  a mixed hedge along the boundary road at some point in the future to replace the flimsy stock fence.  

Not forgetting the routine work in the wood ( all 30 acres of it ) during the year, including: birch thinning on and off the Ride, willow pollarding, ride-side branch lopping to let more light in, regular bracken-bashing,  getting rid of rhododendron, cord and fire-wood processing, and continuing to look for a market for it, rubbish collection, fence repair,  to name just some essential tasks.

Our professional deer stalkers/foresters  have made a start on reducing the fallow deer numbers, which we hope will eventually result in more successful  regeneration (the supply of wild  venison during the November to March season has been welcome). They have also done some birch felling for us, impressing us greatly with the speed, efficiency and neatness of their work.

This is also a time to remember that the main reason for purchasing a further 15 acres  of woodland is to increase  enjoyment of the wood’s  slowly increasing  diversity,  walking and camping, looking and listening, bonfires and mushrooms, and sharing these pleasures with family and friends, fishermen on the Pond,  and strangers (preferably if  they don't leave litter and/or are not professional mushroom pickers) .