Death to the trees – huh?

Many people do not appreciate why trees are cut down in managed woodland. From my point of view they are cut down to provide me with raw materials. From an environment perspective they are cut down for the benefit of woodland.

I work in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a govt. designated area of land where development  and other activities are regulated.

On Monday I will be cutting down trees.  Here are some of them:

These are self-seeded sycamores.  Nothing wrong with that. Except that this is a SSSI.  With a management plan.  This is not wildwood.  There is none in England.  All woodland in England has been managed for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years (OK more than 1,000 years is thousands – right?)

Strid Wood SSSI is so designated for these reasons:

“Ordnance Survey Sheet 1: 50,000: 104 1: 10,0000: SE 05 NE
First Notified: 1985 (December)
Other Information:

The south-west bank is intensively used for recreation, and nature trails have been set out.
Description:
Strid Wood contains the largest area of acidic oak woodland and the best remnant of oak wood-pasture in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The wood is set astride the River Wharfe which here runs through a deep steep-sided valley cut into Millstone Grit and Carboniferous Limestone.

The southwest bank has been much altered by forestry practice. The native oak Quercus petraea, and ash Fraxinus excelsior are accompanied by plantations of beech Fagus sylvatica, sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, poplar Populus sp. and conifers such as larch and Douglas fir.
The very edge of the river however remains largely neutral, with elm and alders. Soil conditions on this side of the valley appear less acidic, and the ground flora is rich, with stands of dog’s mercury Mercurialis perennis, ramsons Allium ursinum, sanicle Sanicula europaea and sweet woodruff Asperula odoratum. The uncommon yellow star of Bethlehem Gagea lutea is found here.
The wood is valued by naturalists for its important populations of many groups of plants and animals. There is a rich bryophyte flora, several species being rare of very local in distribution, including Dicranum montanum, Cinclicotus mucronatus, Fissidens rufulus, Nowellia curvifolia and Sphagnum quinquefarium. A wide variety of fungi occur two species Coprinus subpurpureus and Deconica rhombispora, being first British records. Woodland management by selective felling rather than clear-felling has ensured a continuity of tree-cover, and has favoured the growth of a rich lichen-flora: indeed Strid Wood is considered one of the best lichen woods in Yorkshire.
Amongst the most notable species recorded are Arthonia didyma, Thelotrema lepadinum, Cladonia parasitica and Endocarpon pusillum. The wood is also noted for the occurrence of the local molluscs Acanthinula lamellata and Lauria anglica.

Over sixty species of birds have been recorded, forty-four of these breeding, including pied flycatcher, wood warbler and goosander.”

This is the designation by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

OK so, ash and oak are the principal inhabitants, they are being encouraged and the invaders, mainly sycamore and beech are being discouraged (cut down).

Ash in Strid is a prolific generator and if left alone would produce a woodland of over crowded trees.  So what we do is remove some of the weaker trees, so that the small trees can become big healthy trees that will go forward for years (and centuries) to come.

Here are the marked men:

The little ones here are just taking the ground goodness and light away from the larger ash tree at centre right.  So the ones with the green spots will be cut, and the bigger ash will flourish.  This is not wild wood – the trees would be much bigger – it is managed woodland.  Enjoy.

Like the sunset:

Spring in the air

The crows have been paired up for a couple of weeks now, the pairs above were taken on 6th March. Now I’ve finished felling, phew! I’ve a bit of time to look around and get sorted ready for Spring.

But first a brief return to wintery weather for a hedge-laying competition. I won in the speed stakes (no prizes there then!) mainly because it was raining the whole time and as I am normally hiding under the tarp in Strid Wood, my outdoor wet weather gear just wasn’t up to it. I decided to dash home and return in time for the judging, hypothermia could have set in if I’d hung around a couple of hours wet through (well, not really; my feet were still dry). Here’s my length:

I won second prize – a bill hook, lost to the winner because I’d left a couple of gaps at the bottom. It was rather wet:

This guy’s wringing out his gloves.

Earlier in the week I had a chance to tidy up the workshop in Strid, moved the sales booth to the side and raked out some of the two foot of shavings. I think it looks a lot more open:

There are a couple of bowls I’m working on, the far one is a bird bath in chestnut.

I’ve felled an alder tree, that should make some good bowls too – watch this space!

Felling

Sorry, so busy no time for picture taking. I’ll try get some today as the weather is superb. My brother and I are carrying out heavy thinning work in Strid Wood. Only done two days and already lost count of the number of trees downed. The effect is really good though. There’s an old saying that you can’t see the trees for the wood, which is applied to overcrowded growth. These trees just don’t behave when left to their own devices you know. They just seed everywhere, even where they have little chance of growing to maturity. The beeches are the worst, they would take over the entire wood given the opportunity. However Strid is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and designated as “recovering”. This designation is explained as management of introduced species, like poplar, and reduction of species which are not in the SSSI designation e.g beech. The thinning reduces the call on sunlight, water and nourishment by weedy trees to favour big oaks and ash. This also opens up the ground so that the flora and shrub layers benefit and thus insects and birds and vistas appear between the big trees.

So next time you see a man with an orange hat and a chain saw have a think about what he’s doing, and it may not be a case of “Woodman spare that tree!” so much as “What a good job!”

Thawsday

The thaw has started in Strid Wood, with the snow on the trees dripping into the snow.  It was also dripping off the tarp yesterday, mainly due to the roaring fire I got going in the afternoon.

In the morning I finished off moving all the stray Spring felled timber back to the bodgery.  I’ve been using two very useful tools for this.  First up the log tongs.  This is great.  The two dogs bite into the logs and then you can haul them into the trailer, mostly without touching them and keeping your gloves drier. The logs look rough, but they are fine inside.

If the logs are frozen together (and few weren’t!) I’ve been using this home-made pickeroon.

This was originally a short-handled job, not sure of its intended purpose, but with a long handle it’s great for freeing logs and digging the spike end into  log also allows rolling and pulling without bending – great!

While I was back in this part of the woods I surveyed my thinning work last year, you may be able to see all the stumps as larger black lumps.

And this is where I’m due to thin next.

There’s a lot of small stuff in there to fell.

Meanwhile back at the bodgery I spent the afternoon making rolling pin blanks and animals:

They are supposed to be foxes, the front one is OK.  I’ve since modified the big one into a bear, the rather angular one awaits further attention from the knife.

I also had a look round at tracks – I like the ‘shadow’ of the wing in this one:

When I got home there was an interesting eBay delivery:

Guess what’s inside.  See next post.

Bananas

Today was a good day; I didn’t get a parking ticket for parking on a vacant market lot on the High Street in Skipton, mind you, I’m a market man now though but:

However, it looks as though it might be a good idea to park on the setts lots of times on market day.  The notice says future offences may result in only a fixed penalty.  I wonder how many offences you can have and still get just one penalty.  Perhaps I should write to them.

We are supposed to be having a large silver birch in our garden dismantled tomorrow.   Matthew, the climbing boy, left me a phone message saying that the tree is in a conservation area and that therefore paperwork, inspection etc will be involved.  He’d been informed of this by Craven District Council, funny that, they are the same people who wrote to me in April, telling me that they were not making a tree preservation order on said silver birch, ad therefore I could carry out the felling works.  Not sure why I pay my taxes to pay for people who are so incompetent.

Anyway, it was bright and cold in t’woods today and I put the back together for the final dining chair in the set of 6.  Made a deer, had a chat with a JP, took an order for a bird table (which I may be able to do in chestnut, depending), and sold a broom and two elves.  To cap it all I now also have a disused electricity pole to play with and keep me warm at night.

What a good start to the weekend.  And what’s more I’m making cullen skink for tea with smoaked haddock from George for tea, brill (not the fish!)!