Spring is in the air but unfortunately, so is the Covid virus! In the light of the continuing lockdown and Government regulations, it has not been possible to recommence our autumn/winter conservation programme as we had hoped. At this time of year the programme would be ending in any event and we hope that life will be back to some semblance of normal by September when we will start a new conservation programme. We’ve really missed you over recent months and it will be great to get things rolling again later in the year. In the meantime, we have continued to do some essential work with our small socially distanced maintenance “bubble”.
In the past week, we started our spring/summer charcoal season and something tells us that we could be very busy with foreign holidays on hold and people only being allowed to meet in gardens initially when rules start to relax. Indeed, orders are starting to flow in already. We had our first burn with a half load of timber to test the major repairs that were undertaken to it over the winter. All went well and the burn completed in just over six hours. Once current regulations ease we will start advertising burn dates again in the Events Diary, when you will be able to come along and help with some sawing for an hour or two.
All around Pondhead there are signs of spring and the bluebell shoots are starting to appear ahead of their April/May flowering season. There is also a noticeable increase in birdsong and adders have been spotted in the sunshine as they emaerge from their winter hibernation. It won’t be long before leaves start appearing on the trees which will help dry out the ground as the sap rises.
Given the continuing Covid uncertainty and the fact that we have been unable to cut any suitable timber over the past season, we have taken the decision not to run any chair courses this year. While we will miss the income, our finances remain strong and we are currently looking to run a series of “Coppicing & Charcoal” walks to supplement charcoal income. These will form part of the National Parks Experiences programme with central advertising so it’ll be interesting to see what take up we get.
During lockdown we made a successful application to join the UK Nature Recovery Network. This is a major plank in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and is still in its infancy with policies being developed at present – we will know more as it evolves over coming months. Basically, it aims to enhance sites designated for nature conservation and their resilience to climate change. Further details can be obtained by clicking here.
One of our objectives when we set ourselves up as a conservation charity was education. The objective is very broad covering all age groups and while we have had success it’s been on a fragmented basis. In order enhance our offerings in this respect we are pleased to report that Paul Brockman has joined our team as Education Officer. Until recently Paul had operated from Hoburne Bashley for eight years where he created a two-year woodland management programme for students who struggle in formal educational settings. He operates as Woodlander Coppice and will work in partnership with us, bringing students to Pondhead who are looking to work in a woodland environment. We have allocated a section of Two Oaks Close, where they will gain practical experience of coppicing and general woodland management.
Our new wet shelter for the charcoal kiln has been dismantled for the time being following our meeting with Forestry England and we’re awaiting confirmation from them that we can put it back up again. Our meeting with them was constructive and covered other issues in addition to the shelter. We explained that we would be taking the structure down subsequent to the meeting to treat the logs with preservative. In the event, it took only 33 minutes to dismantle it completely, proving that it is a very temporary structure – I can’t take a tent down as fast as that!
Our AGM is due within the next month and we usually extend an open invitation to all volunteers but we regret that this will not be possible on this occasion but we will post the meeting notes online so that you are all aware of what tranpired.
Finally, if you shop at Amazon you can raise funds for us at no cost to yourself with Amazon Smile. PCT is registered as a charity with Amazon and they donate a small percentage of any purchases which we receive on a quarterly basis. The other way to raise funds for us is via Give as You Live . Some of you are already supporting us by doing your online shopping with these organisations – every little helps.
Take care everyone.