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British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby oldclaypaws » Wed Nov 26, 2014 11:59 pm

Did someone here not register their wood as a Nature Reserve? No idea how much protection that might give but it might be worth looking at.


Great idea. Now who was it who did that, do you remember? Wasn't it some bloke it Somerset? Oh yeh, that's right, it was me !

Unfortunately registering as a Private Nature Reserve under the auspices of Somerset Wildlife doesn't mean they have any active role in its ownership or management, its just linking into their network to get the odd newsletter and show commitment to a pro-wildlife strategy. The arrangement ends with my demise, and they don't visit the wood. Frankly, I almost forget I did it until I get the newsletter, it doesn't make much difference and there are no significant obvious benefits for the wood.

I do feel a commitment to thinking about the wildlife, which is why this week the few (6ft) trees I've planted have all been ones known to have biodiversity and wildlife benefits. Small leaved Lime; (great for insects), wild and bird cherries and wild service. I've have planted more but only had a couple of areas that get light, further 'enrichment' will have to wait until a few of the Oaks have disappeared and theres more light to support younger trees.

Back to the subject of planking hardwoods versus firewood; I checked firewood prices locally today and they do seem to have jumped. It seems a cubic metre round here will cost £100. Presumably if prices are still continuing to increase its due to growing demand and supply shortages. A lot of scrap wood is now going to pellets or wood boilers in large industrial concerns, which is putting up prices to the log boys.
Last edited by oldclaypaws on Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby Meadowcopse » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:09 am

Some interesting points on kids today and Enid Blyton etc.

I wouldn't lose too much faith - I think some of it is down to opportunity at many levels.
A couple of folks on here have The Scouts stop over and bushcrafting attracts a reasonably younger age range of participants.
I've been pleasantly surprised by 20somethings wanting to help me and actively taking an interest in the surroundings and opportunities for camping (and being remarkably respectful to their surroundings).

I think younger people have different distractions and pressures, the latter ironically for the ones just into adulthood, making them realise they might have missed something as children...
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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby smojo » Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:26 am

I never considered the need to replace plantation trees and visualised having to fell and replace an absolute minimum.


You'll find that your ideas and opinions will quickly change once you get your woods. At first I thought "I don't want to fell any trees at all, I want to keep every single one". A little studying and talking to Robin at Woodland Trust made me realise that many of my trees are suffering and stressed because of overcrowding and lack of light. My sycamore stand in particular needs about 30% removing in order to favour the better samples. So now I can't wait to get my FC thinning licence so I can start felling and improve my beloved wood. You start to see things very differently.

I wouldn't lose too much faith - I think some of it is down to opportunity at many levels.
A couple of folks on here have The Scouts stop over and bushcrafting attracts a reasonably younger age range of participants.


There was a piece on Countryfile a few weeks ago which was really interesting. Somewhere someone was organising bushcraft activities in a wood for families and children and also for older folks with mental health issues. They were lighting fires and cooking over them, lugging logs about and all sorts of good old activities. They said there was medical proof that spending time in woodlands was beneficial to health due to the brain activity switching from alpha to beta brainwaves. There was an elderly lady whittling herself a design on a hazel walking stick she was making and said she had never whittled in her life and was loving it. So slowly, folks are starting to realise that kids and grownups, are missing out on these natural activities aren't they. Look at all the glamping places springing up. Yeah it's poncey but maybe some of those kids and folks will latch onto the idea that they might like real camping and outdoor activities.
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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby oldclaypaws » Thu Nov 27, 2014 10:49 am

many of my trees are suffering and stressed because of overcrowding and lack of light


You raised an interesting point about the water table Smojo, and I've concluded my Oaks are sucking the ground dry, competing with each other and denying water to other plants such as the Hazel. Each of my Oaks can take 50+ gallons of water a day from the ground, so I'm losing something like 35,000 litres of water a day from my wood, just to the Oaks- that's the equivalent of a depth of 1.5mm of rainfall across the wood, or a typical wet day's worth. I commented previously this year that the Hazels had all developed new shoots from the base. I believe under normal conditions this should happen most years, but my ground is so parched, its frequently 'drought' conditions for the Hazel. This year was exceptionally wet, the water table was far higher and there was enough water for everyone, so the Hazel thickened up a bit. During a typical summer I get 1" cracks opening up across the woodland floor, not unlike scenes from a desert river bed and its usually very firm and dry underfoot, even though the wood is level its never muddy, even in the winter. Additionally, the dry ground conditions will restrict natural regeneration, there's not enough water for young saplings, possibly why my new Oak saplings get dry roots and succumb to mildew every year.

Thinning the Oaks will increase the available water and may well see a surge in growth from the Hazel and other species such as mosses, ground flora, insects, worms, amphibians and birds, making the whole wood feel more vibrant and alive; an exciting prospect.
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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby Dave and Verity » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:16 am

"beneficial to health due to the brain activity switching from alpha to beta brainwaves"

My wife swears that I spend more time sitting still (by a fire) in the woods than anywhere else, including our living room.

Haven't been able to get there for several weeks due to other time comittments and it's like withdrawal. I actually want to get up there and do some hard manual work. Very, very strange.

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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby oldclaypaws » Thu Nov 27, 2014 12:44 pm

I know we all live a variety of distances from our woods, and of course for most people there is the unfortunate distraction of 'work'. As such, I'm extremely fortunate to have my wood located 3 miles away and a lifestyle which enables me to visit it every day. The only times I don't go are during extreme weather such as gales or absolute downpours, but I go even on moderately wet days (which I actually really enjoy- the rain makes it feel like a small rainforest and the damp brings out new smells and sensations).

I can't imagine what I'd be like if I hadn't been able to visit for weeks, its the focal point of my day and I always come back feeling refreshed and fulfilled, content to have had my 'fix' of fresh air, nature and usually a good 2 or 3 hours of intense activity. As you probably noticed, once I'm home I tend to hit the laptop surfing for tools, information on trees or wildlife and check the latest news on SWOG, so even when not there I'm still fairly focused on the whole woodland project. I find recently when asked the usual 'What do you do?" I tend not to say 'Potter', but "I'm restoring a wood, finding uses for the timber and occasionally make a few pots." There isn't a box on the Self Assessment form for that. Soon, we'll have a hut in the wood, and at that point the house in my view becomes somewhat superfluous, I can see me there most of the time and reporting back to Mrs Paws for dinner and a bath before returning to sit in a clearing round a fire watching the stars and pondering on the meaning of life. (42)

The prospect of being able to turn some of my many Oaks into product (and having clay on site) means even though my wood is small, I can in effect make a modest living from it, using it as a source of materials, a place to sit and make things, and a venue to which I can occasionally invite interested persons to come and acquire them- the car park is taking shape this month. I see no reason why its not an achievable reality rather than a romantic dream, given perseverance and disciplined application. Its on course, and I've never been happier, winter blues are a thing of the past. It wouldn't work for everybody, but given a choice between the life of a billionaire in a penthouse running a vast business empire versus my simple little close-to-nature existence, I know which I'd have every time. :mrgreen:
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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby boxerman » Thu Nov 27, 2014 3:37 pm

Great idea. Now who was it who did that, do you remember? Wasn't it some bloke it Somerset? Oh yeh, that's right, it was me !


Oh, well..... I knew someone had..... :lol:

Maybe you need to introduce some extremely rare orchids or Great Crested Newts - no-one would be able to get near it then....
Phil

https://twitter.com/boxermanphil for my Badger videos
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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby oldclaypaws » Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:06 pm

We do have orchids, but they are the relatively common early purple. Seen here being examined by one of my assistants.

Pearl orchid.jpg


The only Newt I've seen locally was a Palmate, but that was at home under the debris of an old rotting shed ! I've a number of depressions about 3 ft deep left by clay digging and I've started to fill these some of these with dead wood. If they held water for longer (I reckon the Oaks drain them), we might end up with amphibians. Don't think I've even seen a frog so far.
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Re: British Hardwoods and Woodfuel

Postby smojo » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:11 am

You raised an interesting point about the water table Smojo, and I've concluded my Oaks are sucking the ground dry, competing with each other and denying water to other plants such as the Hazel.


This year was very dry and hot up here in the arctic wastes of Yorkhire unlike the wet rainforest weather that Somerset experienced. I noticed the sycamore stand started to turn their leaves yellow very early. A stump that had been felled previously had sent new shoots but they died off. The large sweet chestnuts grew lots of nuts but they failed to fill up. I reckon my wood suffered a mini drought during summer so hopefully when I get some of those sycamore down it will help the others.

"beneficial to health due to the brain activity switching from alpha to beta brainwaves"


Sorry I got that the wrong way around. Alpha waves are associated with relaxation - Beta with activity and anxiety.
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