Our autumn/winter conservation programme commenced on 22 September, which is our seventh season since the formation of Pondhead Conservation Trust during which time we have run over 600 tasks and events. A tremendous amount has been achieved by our volunteers during this time and, without exaggeration, each week we continue receive positive comments from members of the public regarding the difference that we have made – all volunteers can take pride in this.
Our first three-week batch of conservation tasks were booked up very quickly and thanks to everyone for only booking one event per week. We will aim to release future event dates in three-week batches and advise you by email prior to bookings going live. Hopefully this will ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to book onto events now that we are having to operate with reduced numbers. Most weeks, our events will take place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
With the start our scaled down autumn/winter conservation programme coinciding with more Government restrictions, the Covid pandemic looks like it’s far from over so we’ll just have to be sensible and follow these guidelines/regulations as we head into the unknown. Following the latest announcement, we can still operate as planned without breaching any of the revised rules/guidelines. The risk of infection outdoors is much less than indoors, particularly in restaurants, pubs. etc., but it is very important to follow our Covid Risk Assessment when attending conservation tasks – no apologies for repeating this as failure to comply could lead to cancellation of tasks. We have also taken the decision not to entertain any outside organisations on conservation tasks this season and have already turned away some requests.
However, all of the above doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying our work and tasks in Pondhead as there will be several different projects to keep us occupied and amused over the coming months. One such project planned is timber hauling with Alaskan Malamute dogs. This was scheduled to start on 26 September but was cancelled at short notice as their owner is self isolating awaiting the results of a Covid test for a family member. As already mentioned, we won’t take any risks. The event has been re-scheduled and if it proves successful, it could lead to more such events.
During the past week, we have concentrated our efforts on collecting timber (in between showers!) from around the inclosure to stack by the charcoal kiln in readiness for next year’s charcoal season. In the absence of Toby and his horses, we’ve used volunteer power with the trolleys and excellent progress has been made – just a few more tons of timber to collect!! Timber collection will be our priorty on the initial week’s tasks and this will be followed by tidying the mess left by last winter’s forestry operations in the ramson area at the back of Limewood. The large timber logs have now been removed but there remains a lot of brash that needs clearing before we can replant the area with some standard lime trees.
As you may be aware, the chainsaw team have been concentrating recently on felling a small area of ash trees on the southern loop of our Circular Trail which unfortunately were infected by ash die-back disease (chalara). Rather than let some nice straight timber go to the charcoal kiln, we decided to cleave (split) it into fencing stakes and in order to prolong their life in the ground, we charred their ends in the charcoal kiln. They will be used to re-build the Hornbeam Stockade in the kiln area as the one built by local Scouts five years ago is now past its best. This will be another task for our autumn/winter programme once the kiln has been sent off for repairs.
Talking of charcoal, we are still receiving a trickle of orders so we’ll be doing another couple of burns before we finally stop for the season. Following a record August for sales which were only just short of £2K, we are now ahead of last year despite the seven week shut down at the begining of the season. This is quite a bonus as when Lockdown was announced in March, we had written off much in the way of charcoal sales this year. With most people only able to meet outdoors, BBQs obviously became very popular.
The past month also saw our last chair course of the year take place on 12 September in ideal conditions. All six participants enjoyed their day experience in the woods and all sucessfully made a chair to take home with them. We hope to repeat some courses next year but most of our bookings usually arise from promotion at the New Forest Show which, unfortunately, had to be cancelled this year. We’ll have to think of another way to promote them – help us by telling your family and friends. They can register their interest online via our website page.
Since the start of the year we have been in the process of updating our promo video as we moved through the seasons. The process is now complete and can be viewed here and on our Home page – hope you like it.
Finally, we will be placing another clothing order with our suppliers shortly, so if you require any items please place your order by 11 October. We now have baseball caps available with the woven Pondhead emblem at £5 each. All items are subsidised by at least 33% and are available from our Pondhead Clothing page.
Take care everyone and stay safe.
This month’s slideshow