Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Path clearing

There is a continuing need to cut back vegetation as it encroaches on the paths through Filnore Woods.

Overhead dangly bits are cut off to avoid catching people's faces.

The cut material is raked up.

Then it is barrowed away, either to a pit or a fire or a compost heap.

So now the entrance near post 13 is clear.

You can walk two abreast round to post 14 . . .

. . . and on past the row of beeches to post 15.

Good work by the volunteers but we can always do with some more help.  If you are interested, see the blog page on volunteering.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Rowan in flower

The Rowan or Mountain Ash is the latest tree to come into bloom at Filnore Woods.

The creamy flower heads show up on the edge of the woodland.

The leaves are similar to ash leaves but the leaflets on each compound leaf are more toothed.  It is only this similarity which gives it the name of 'mountain ash'.  The two trees are unrelated.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Fire in the woods

I expect many of you, like me, enjoyed making fires in your youth.  Well I still enjoy it now.  There's something very elemental about fire. 

But when fires are lit under trees it can be very injurious to them.  The damage is unseen at first, but after a month or so the bark begins to show scorch marks.

A closer look shows that the bark has actually been killed.  and beneath the bark, the vital, unseen growth layer called the cambium is also dead.   

 This usually leads to bare wood and fungal attack, after which the tree becomes liable to breakage. 

Not only that.  Fires cause further unseen damage to the feeding roots just below the soil surface.

For this reason we are thinking about creating a fireplace at the viewpoint or on the foundation of the old cowshed, to encourage those who want to have fires to do so away from the trees.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Scything season starts

In mid-April we got our scythes mowing again in the welcome area.

We have really made a difference here.  In 2012 it was mostly bramble, which we cleared.

 Then we got a burst of stinging nettles

and with repeated mowings we now have a lot more grass 
and a more diverse array of flowering plants.  

But we still have to keep mowing as it's now docks that are trying to dominate. 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Action Plan summary 2015-16

This is a summary of what we hope to achieve this year.

Friends of Filnore Woods
Filnore Woods Community Woodland
Action Plan Supplement, March 2015

Paths, steps and seating
Paths:  continue to maintain paths at 3m wide where possible.  Through grassland this will entail monthly mowing, in areas like the tree nursery field encroaching vegetation will need cutting back two or three times, woodland paths eg from posts 11 to 8, will need more levelling with woodchip and maintenance of wooden path edgers.

Steps from the allotments and near the footbridge will need fresh woodchip and maintenance of risers.  Possibility of installing new steps on steep stretch through blackthorn thicket between posts 8 and 9.

Seating:  Instal a second bench seat at the viewpoint and consider further seating possibilities

Grassland paths  short grass areas  long grass
Maintain grassland paths 3m wide by monthly mowing. 

Maintain short grass areas similarly at Welcome Area, Memorial Limes, Viewpoint, and other recently cleared areas e.g. near Cowshed

Cut at least some of the long grass areas as a start on a rotational mowing of the whole grassland resource.  This rotation may take some years to complete.

Stream   consolidate banks   clearance  dams
Near the footbridge various works to consolidate and stabilise the banks and render the footpath less boggy in winter.

Start clearance of vegetation along banks to enable access – eventually a new path through the Valley below posts 9 and 10.

Consider building dams, both permanent and childproof to (a) slow the flow of winter torrents and (b) create standing water in small ponds to attract wildlife including bats

Coppicing  conservation  wood   sales
Coppice a third coupe in winter 2015-16, from this year’s coupe up to the top.  Start a bit earlier, say in October, to get it done in time.  Wood to be used on site for steps, path edging, hedging stakes and hetherings, and material also cut with a view to sale of bean poles, plant stakes and maybe some peasticks.  Larger wood for firewood.  Some left as log piles and brash piles or dead hedging.  Principal purpose is to enhance habitat.

Lay another 25m or so of hedge on the other side of the entrance in February.  Liaise with allotment holders to make sure they are happy about the operation including access on their side of the hedge.  We don’t require their assistance this year until we are more expert.

Trees: safety & thinning
Continue monthly monitoring of trees, as well as other potential hazards, from a safety point of view.

Fell some more trees to re-space them, concentrating mostly on the ash.  This will provide material for e.g. seating or firewood, and will allow the remaining trees to grow better.  Currently much of the woodland contains trees with narrow drawn-up crowns because they are too close together,  and it is rather dark, which inhibits the development of a varied ground flora.

Dawn Chorus Walk: probably have a fifth one in late April 

Owl Prowl or Bat Walk:  this was previously arranged as part of the south Glos discover Festival but they are hoping for something new and innovative.  Hmmmm.

Cultural events?  Could we host an Arts Festival Event?

Campfire site
Fires in the woodland are a threat to tree health.  We could consider building a campfire site with young people in mind in places without trees such as the Viewpoint or the Cowshed.  Would they use them or do they prefer their own dens?  Would we provide firewood to stop them hacking bits off trees or using our wooden installations as fuel?

Monitoring of wildlife
Birds are still being monitored monthly by Rob Collis

Bristol Naturalists will conduct another invertebrate survey in 2016 or 2017

Flowering plants should be monitored again following the comprehensive survey by Allan Burberry and Cynthia Davis in 2012.

Action plan: This is a supplement updating the previous action plan dated 31st March 2014

Jerry Dicker 31st March 2015