This January, on a frosty morning, we were met in the woods by Alex Laurie, Principal Tree and Landscape Officer at Three Rivers District Council. He had 40 broadleaf trees for us to plant in an area of the woods which has had most of the larch removed.
This is a long-term goal for our ancient woodland, to restore it to the state it would have been in had it not, in areas, been planted with a larch crop. Under Alex’s expert guidance, we planted 15 hazel, 15 beech, 5 wild cherry and 5 hornbeam with supports and guards to protect them from deer and rabbits.
We have another 40 trees to plant next month in another area of the woods.
In January contractors were in the woods tackling jobs from our 5-year GAP (Greenspace Action Plan) This included removing more of the larch from Hillas Wood and we hope that native broadleaf trees will eventually replace these. Sadly, a job that wasn’t originally on the GAP, the removal of ash affected by Ash Dieback, had to be done for safety reasons. This left the woods looking a bit denuded for a while, although by the time the logs were removed, when the ground was less muddy, the woods were looking luscious again. Also, one of the paths was widened in places as stated in the GAP to let more light into the inside of the woods and encourage a more diverse selection of plants and insects to thrive. Our volunteers were on hand to help clear up.
In February, strong winds brought down quite a few trees. Some of the larger ones were removed by contractors, but that still left many smaller ones for volunteers to clear up during February and March.
In April, one particular tree had come down between the piles of larch logs. Without electric tools, our volunteers still managed to remove the obstacle.
In Spring, everything starts to grow rapidly in the woods, and in particular the brambles. One path we call Bramble Ramble needed extra attention in May as it was getting hard to walk down.
An important path to keep clear is the one from Whitelands Avenue into the woods. This is particularly critical in June when the nettles have grown.
The entrance from the Barrel Arch was getting really overgrown over the Summer. We cleared around all the signage so visitors to the woods would get an unobstructed view.
In October we had the sad task of removing some of the young ash trees by the Chiltern Way that were suffering from Ash Dieback. Some of these were so badly affected that they could be pulled up rather than needing to be sawn down. Being so near the path, this was an essential task as one could easily have fallen onto the path as someone was walking past.
November and December are good months to thin some of the dense bits of holly in the woods as there are no birds nesting. We avoid removing holly that has berries so we don’t deprive the birds of a food source.
A crisp sunny day in December is a beautiful time to be working in the woods. This was our view over the Horse Field from where we were working on the holly.
Last week Wednesday volunteers from the Country Management Service visited Carpenters Wood to take the lead in the widening and scalloping of the main ride which runs roughly east to west through the woodland. The ride management and scalloping work is taking place over successive years (as detailed in our 5 year GAP plan) along the south-facing side of the ride, which will benefit most from increased levels of sunlight that are so valuable in enhancing biodiversity along the woodland edge. The pictures were all taken by CMS. Thanks to everyone who turned up to lend a hand!
One of our most important jobs in the woods in the Summertime is to keep the paths clear for all those who wish to enjoy our beautiful woodland without imperiling themselves on the seemingly unstopbable march of the brambles (keeping plenty for those who wish to take advantage of nature’s bounty of blacberries in the Autumn).
Despite a rather sudden and sharp downpour just before our session was due to start, 6 intrepid volunteers braved the mud and met for our last socially-distanced session of the year. The sun quickly appeared and lifted our spirits and spurred us into action tackling mainly invasive laurel that has been enjoying all the rain.
We have to stop volunteer sessions now we are in Tier 4, but hope that it won’t be long before we resume.
Volunteer seesions have resumed in Carpenters Wood with additional protocols and for groups of 6 or fewer. We would like to thank all the FOCW volunteers and our local neighbours who have picked up litter to keep Carpenters Wood looking beautiful over the Summer months.
A few of the bridleways are becoming overgrown with brambles whilst we have not been able to have working parties in the woods. We tackled one at our recent session:
Also, we made a start on the area damaged by fire back in July. We are hopeful that the larger trees will survive what must have been a very intense, but luckily very localised fire (thanks to the fire brigade for turning up promptly).