The postman delivered the current edition of the Small Woods Association’s “Smallwoods” magazine today, for New Year 2019.
As well as the usual news roundup, letters, and book reviews, the feature articles include:
Carbon capture in wood
Identifying signs of mammals
The first in a series of articles on woodland planning permission and other controls
Buying and selling woods
100 years of the Forestry Commission
The Oliver Rackham archive of books and papers
Weaving a willow basket
One member’s wood, planted by them in 1995
Blue tits in woodland
I was really pleased to see the planning article, which again brought up some of the themes of the Long Tail essay. I’m looking forward to the next article in the series, on the details of the planning system (the bare bones of which are in the Planning Law page on this site.)
To the southeast of Island Pool in the deer park of Dunham Massey in Cheshire is a group of burnt oaks. I came across them today on a New Year’s Day walk. At first I thought they might be due to a lightning strike, but further digging reveals they are the result of a bracken fire.
This first picture sets the scene of the small group of oaks, which have lost their tops at about the same height. Some have started to regrow crowns, but others are dead. You might be able to convince yourself that they got a fork each from a large lightning discharge, destroying their tops and (on closer inspection) leaving them as charred hollows. You can see lots of charring in the second picture. Lightning can also travel through the bark, burning and shattering as it goes.
I’ve already written about visiting Glen Strathfarrar in the spring. and the next day I went 10 miles south to Glen Affric, one of the main areas where Trees for Life has been working to preserve and extend the kind of Caledonian forest which once covered most of the Scottish Highlands. Unlike Glen Strathfarrar, Glen Affric is mostly owned by the Forestry Commission so access is straightforward with car parks, maps, and marked trails. In one area I saw evidence of pine martens, although not the creatures themselves.
Some of the pictures at the end of this post were taken from the side of the road, but they are mostly on the walking trails which start at the Forestry Commission car park near Dog Falls. My route was mainly to walk up the hillside to the south of the car park and then down to Coire Loch which is surrounded by the forest.
At the start of the year I blogged about natural regeneration of woodland, and the land’s ability to regrow trees and resurrect forests from seeds waiting in the soil if deer, sheep, and humans allow it. One of the examples I used was a dramatic photo from Alan Watson Featherstone’s blog which he took in Glen Strathfarrar. It shows the effect of deer fence in allowing trees to come by themselves if left ungrazed. In April I visited the valley myself.
Last week I spent five days at Century Wood, living in the log cabin and working on the new drying barn. We’ve stayed at the wood for a weekend at a time before, but this is my longest stay and didn’t involve any breaks: I didn’t even climb the gate and walk the rides shared with my neighbours during my stay. It was quite an experience.
Earlier this week I revisited a woodland at the foot of the Jura mountains in France that I also photographed in mid February before the snow returned. I was able to take some before and after pictures of small trees marked for felling by the French Office National des Forets, and then felled, and also see how property boundaries are marked.
There’s a rebellion going on in Britain. All around us. The resistance wins some battles and loses others. It has fought us since we first began to clear woodlands and create fields thousands of years ago. Its aim is reforestation with native trees, its method is natural regeneration, and in more and more places it is winning – increasingly with our help.
I’ve just watched the beautiful Episode 7 of the Woodlanders series of films. This episode is about Tinker’s Bubble in Somerset and how they do forestry without using fossil fuel: felling with axe and saw, extraction with horses, and a saw mill powered by a wood-burning steam engine.
The Woodlanders series is made by Costa Boutsikaris and is crowd funded. Please consider supporting his work if you like the film.