Well it’s been a really busy summer and I’ve neglected the website and blog somewhat in the process. Some of our time has been spent writing woodland management plans, and dealing with the impressively long new forms for the Countryside Stewardship Scheme! The scheme now includes all the Forestry Commission grant funding, and one of these is to help fund preparing a woodland management plan for a landowner.
We have been working on several management plans, but two interesting contrasts have actually not involved the Forestry Commission. One plan was for the Friends of Tregoniggie Woodland in Falmouth. The other is for the National Trust at Ebworth, in Gloucestershire, where I am helping write a Conservation Management Plan for the estate. Tregoniggie is a community based urban fringe woodland, while Ebworth is part of a large Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and National Nature Reserve.
The Friends of Tregoniggie Woodland are doing a great job helping manage their local woodland, and are hoping to raise funds via grants for improvement works, for both access work and habitat improvements. Tregoniggie was mainly planted in the 1970s, courtesy of some far sighted planning by Don Hoyle, then Head of Parks for Falmouth Borough Council. It now forms part of a green corridor running through the town and Community engagement is great and does a tremendous job in helping people value their own neighbourhood environment. There’s quite a lot of research out there now about the value of woods and natural spaces not only for wildlife, but also the health of visitors, through both exercise and spiritual well-being. So why not save on your gym membership and try a spot of conservation volunteering? Plenty of local groups would love to hear from you!
Ebworth is a rather different and special place. It is 400 acres of beech woodland that used to belong to John Workman, the National Trust’s first forestry advisor. They are part of the wider Cotswolds Commons and Beechwoods National Nature Reserve, which is managed jointly with Natural England. John was a passionate advocate of continuous cover forestry, something about which I have blogged previously. It involves always thinning a wood and never clear felling an area, which when done well leads to a very diverse structure and a similarly diverse flora and fauna. Being calcareous soils there is a wide range of rare snails, and the adjacent grasslands form part of a big project to reintroduce the Large Blue butterfly, which became extinct in the UK in 1979. The Ebworth job is being undertaken in partnership with Black Sheep Consultants, who are specialists on gardens, landscapes and history. The old tithe maps we have been researching show something that we suspected on our first visit: some of the areas of officially ancient woodland are in fact more like a hundred years old! Hopefully our work will help the National Trust plot a way forward for this hidden gem.
Let us know if you are looking for a woodland management plan, and we will be pleased to discuss the options.