Friends of Carpenters Wood (FOCW)
Wednesday, 9th March, 2022, 2.00pm
Whitegates, Shire Lane, Chorleywood, WD3 5NT
Present: Barbara Green (BG) (Chair and Minutes), Malcolm Green (MG), Dorothy Freedman (DF), Stephen Ramsay (SR), Shamoon Karimjee (SK), Pam Ferrar (PF), Andrew York (AY), Stephen Hall (SH), Julie Rees (JR), Tree and Landscape Officer (TRDC), Jess Hodges (JH), Community Biodiversity Officer (TRDC)
1. Apologies: Helen Coppock, Lance Coppock, Claire Casey, Robin Hurley, Sue Hall, Nick Hood, Ciaran Mullen (CMS)
2. Matters Arising from Last Minutes 27.9.2021:
Several matters are still outstanding as follows;
a) New benches – 3 new benches are in our current GAP yet to be supplied. JR (TRDC) to raise this issue again and clarify procurement. FOCW are ready to help with location and installation. Action JR
b) Residents Letter regarding dumping of garden waste, etc. – JR (TRDC) to clarify with TRDC whether this is to go ahead. Action JR
c) Replacement Notice Boards – The board at the Farm Gate needs to be replaced. FOCW to try to ‘rescue’ the fallen notice board at Whitelands. Action JR re Farm Gate board
d) Cycling Signage – TRDC seem to want cycling signage to be postponed and included in the new GAP (Green Action Plan) recommendations (2023 – 2028). A full assessment of our woodland cycling signage needs to be made with recommendations to be put forward in the new GAP. Action TRDC
e) Hornbeam Hedge – this work has now been outstanding for about 15 years! It is a complex task and needs specialist work. It is felt that a very limited start should be made on, say two or three trees, to assess the impact for regeneration of the hedge. TRDC need to clarify whether this work can be funded, and if not, deletion from the next GAP should be considered. Action JR
f) TRDC Scythe Strimmer – This machine is held by Friends of Chorleywood House Estate. It would be useful in Carpenters Wood for controlling bramble but so far it has proved difficult to obtain. Action MF and AY
Several matters were resolved following a meeting between BG and TRDC in the woodland on 19.10.21, as follows;
a) Larch Removal -see 3 below
b) Ride Widening – see 3 below
c) Ash Removal – see 3 below
d) Birch/Beech Plantation (G5-6) – most Birch is now too big for volunteers to tackle, but this is not to be given priority by TRDC at present.
e) High-Viz Jackets – JR supplied these.
f) Nursery in Hillas – TRDC felt that this area in Hillas could be used to grow Hornbeam saplings to replenish the ancient Hornbeam Hedge as and when it is coppiced. Hornbeam seeds were collected by BG in October and have been planted in pots but have not, as yet germinated. However, it was felt that this area in Hillas could just be left as is, to allow natural regeneration to take place. Let’s wait and see what happens to the seeds!
g). New Hedge along Farm Track – TRDC advised that this hedge should be left to grow for another 1-2 years and then be layered. Sides could be cut back along with any overhanging tree branches, but top growth allowed to continue for the present. Action DF and SR to schedule work for FOCW for Autumn 2022.
3. Discussion of Latest Woodland Work by TRDC:
Recent work carried out in January 2022 has included significant removal of Larch in Upper and Lower Hillas, together with removal of trees along Bramble Ramble Ride (Widening Project) and removal of Ash (mainly in the Whitelands Quarry) affected by Ash dieback.
Some trees remain which are still marked – Yellow Mark = felling, Orange Mark – Health and Safety check needed, so may also need felling. Trees which are deemed ‘urgent’ for removal will be taken down, others which are deemed ‘essential’ will wait for 2022/2023 funding. Dead standing wood is left if safe as it is a valuable habitat.
The works carried out look quite drastic but this is largely because no felling has occurred for at least 4/5 years. The contractors did a good job in clearing brash and leaving the site in good order. Log piles remain and should be stacked safely. Weather permitting, there are plans for these logs to be removed later in the year by tractor and trailer to a local timber yard. This will hopefully limit damage to paths/woodland floor by heavy machinery.
4. Storm Damage:
A number of trees came down during the storms, some of which have been tackled by FOCW. Towards the end of March TRDC contractors are due to remove storm-damaged trees which are dangerous or are blocking paths (4/5 in number). Those trees which have fallen in the storms which are not blocking paths or are not dangerous will be left.
5. Work Outstanding on the Green Action Plan (GAP):
As mentioned above, PAWS work (removal of Larch from Hillas) and Ride Creation/Widening has all been achieved in the last two months as per the GAP. CCF work (removal of mature trees to open up the canopy) has happened naturally as a result of the storms. Benches, and Hornbeam Hedge are the main things still outstanding. An assurance was sought from TRDC that benches would be supplied. Action JR
JR mentioned that consultation for the new GAP (2023-2028) will start in September. It was suggested that we needed, as a group, to take a fresh look at the woodland in terms of entrances, signage, accessibility, etc in order to draw up meaningful recommendations for the new GAP. Entrances into the woodland need improvement, and better mapping of paths is needed, along with better signage, including the potential use of QR codes. Key features such as bird boxes need to be more clearly mapped. However, the new Plan will mainly be concerned with Maintenance, Tree Planting and Health and Safety.
6. Treasurers Report:
SR provided a Report which shows that our current bank balance is £775. Our main source of income, which is the annual Parish Quiz Night has not happened for two years due to Covid. TRDC provided a £1000 pump prime at the start of the group 15 years ago but have not provided ‘grant money’ since then. Some tools and equipment have been supplied by TRDC but most items are bought out of our own funds. With this in mind, members asked whether battery operated strimmers/brush cutters might be funded by TRDC (see Tool Review below).
7. Report on Progress of Volunteer Group:
a) Work covered since September 2021 – Bramble Ramble cleared after CMS volunteer group visit in the autumn, general Holly and Laurel removal, clearing up after recent TRDC works, and path clearance after recent storms has all taken place. The new hedge along the Farm Path has been cleared of bramble and 8 new bird boxes have been constructed and put in place in the woodland.
b) Membership Update – Membership has remained stable, with the four new members continuing to attend.
c) Tool Review – SR undertook a full audit of our tools for this meeting. This is a very helpful document which suggests that we are well equipped at present. SR and DF will review the Medium Sized Lopper situation (do we need more?) Action SR and DF.
Further action regarding tools is as follows,
*A selection of 240 mm and 270 mm silky pruning saws to be purchased from Honey Brothers Action MG
*Purchase 6 pairs of leather gloves Action MG
*Purchase a Bill Hook Action MG
*To research the purchase of TWO Battery driven Brush Cutters/Strimmers and make Grant Application to TRDC. JR recommended looking at Husqvarna and Stihl. Action MG and SH
d) Day Change – DF has been monitoring attendance at the Thursday and Saturday sessions. Average attendance is 8.5 for Thursdays and 5.5 for Saturdays. It was agreed that DF would obtain group responses to changing the Saturday session to a weekday, e.g. Either Tuesday or Wednesday. Action DF
8. Volunteer Work for the Spring/Summer:
a) General path and Bridleway clearance to maintain accessibility for walkers and horse-riders.
b) An audit of the woodland in terms of access, entrances, and signage in preparation for the new GAP (2023-2028).
c) Explore involvement with local groups e.g. Scouts, nature walks, bat surveys, etc Action JH
d) Renovation of the Whitelands Notice Board (if possible).
e) Litter picks
f) New mapping needs to be undertaken to incorporate all paths, benches and all bird boxes. QR codes also need to be explored to highlight specific features of the woodland to visitors.
9. Web-Site Update:
DF confirmed that the old FOCW website has now been removed from the web. However, links to our present website are still not good. DF mentioned a number of links which need updating on TRDC sites. Action JR
It was also suggested that TRDC might want to contact the Chorleywood Residents Association (CRA) to put a brief notice in their on-line newsletter about the recent tree works in Carpenters Wood, particularly as the normal pre-works notices did not go up due to time constraints. Action JR
The newly widened ride (Bramble Ramble) should be left to ‘settle’ for a year or so to allow regeneration to occur. Then just one side should be cleared each year.
11. Date of next Meeting
AGM – Wednesday 14th September, 2022 at 2.00pm