As we near the end of February we are also approaching the end of another successful autumn/winter season of conservation tasks and despite the record levels of rainfall we have seen, we have only had to cancel two events. Starting in early September last year we have completed over 40 conservation tasks involving just short of 2000 volunteer hours so a massive thankyou to those that have helped us. Whilst our registered volunteer force now stands at over 150 there are still over 80 of you who have yet to attend an event in Pondhead!
In the past week, we entertained a group from the Forestry Commission’s Planning & Ecology team for a day away from the office. In addition to a guided tour, they also got stuck into some conservation work either side of lunch. It was a very useful exercise for both parties and I think it fair to say that they were very impressed with what is being achieved in Pondhead with our volunteer team.
As we have mentioned many times, the coppicing and active ride management that we undertake in Pondhead has an extremely beneficial effect on its biodiversity and there are three excellent short videos by the Forestry Commission which really encompass all that we are striving to achieve. These have been added to a new webpage, “Woodland Management – Benefits” under the Biodiversity tab. They are well worth watching – only 9 minutes in total.
As we move towards spring, this season’s conservation programme will be coming to an end and shortly, we will be concentrating on charcoal production from the timber we have cut over the past six months. There is already a noticeable increase in birdsong around the wood indicating that the nesting season is not too far away and it is important that any remaining conservation tasks are in non sensitive areas that do not interfere with this. The last remaining conservation tasks are now in the diary, and you will note that this includes some tree planting. We have purchased 500 hazel plants to beef up the areas where it is getting sparse as a result of sycamore and silver birch encroachment – it’s quite an easy process as they are young plants so there is no need to dig big holes!
As we prepare to plant new stock, we have taken down three very large holly trees recently in order to let more sunlight onto the junction where the ride meets the gravel track at Great Ingram. With Manny and Dave cutting and a group of 12 volunteers clearing and burning brash we managed to complete what was a large task in under 5 hours. Well done everyone – see the pictures below.
A date for your diary. In order to showcase the work of our volunteers, we will be holding an Open Day with a “Picnic in the Woods” theme on Sunday 15 April when we hope the bluebells will be around their peak. We will be hosting the event in partnership with the Forestry Commission and it will be aimed primarily at the residents and organisations of Lyndhurst but it will also be an opportunity for you to bring friends and family along. We will also need some volunteers to help us on the day – further details will follow in due course.
Finally, there’s nothing like throwing yourself into the job which is precisely what Chris Mack did on a recent event. While trying to see what was blocking a drainage culvert, Chris attempted to lie horizontally above it and ease himself down over the bank head first to peer through. Unfortunately, he overdid it and ended up doing a handstand in the stream with water lapping around his ears and his spectacles floating downstream! With the rest of the party collapsing with laughter we soon realised that he couldn’t get out, and with one person attached to each of his four limbs we managed to extricate him and no lasting damage was one. Thanks for your enthusiasm and the enjoyment you provided Chris, albeit unintentionally!
See you in Pondhead soon.