SIMON’S RANT!

Stara woodsOne of the few agreements at the recent UN Conference on Biodiversity, or Cop 15, was that all countries would protect 30% of their land for wildlife by 2030. This is an essential first step in trying to reverse the global mass extinction of wildlife which now threatens our own existence as natural and semi natural ecosystems, which include agriculture, start to fail.

The UK Government is confident that we will be able to meet the UN target as 28% of UK land is reported to be already protected. However a report from the RSPB in 2020 found that less than 12% of the UK was actually protected for wildlife and less than half of this was assessed as being in good condition. They concluded that only 4.9% of the UK was effectively protected for wildlife. The Governments figures include large areas of land in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or National Parks which are managed as intensive agriculture or semi urban. Achieving this target within 7 years seems highly unlikely without major changes to the agriculture and fishing industries. Food can only be produced in a sustainable way if there is adequate mitigation for lost or displaced wildlife. Current standards, including organic accreditation, fall far short of achieving this. In the past, protecting areas as National Parks has done little to reverse the rapid decline in biodiversity, so wildlife friendly measures need to apply to all our land at the earliest possible opportunity.

LOOKING BACK TO THE BEGINNING – ANNE

Stara woodsThe start of our anniversary year has found me looking back to the beginning of it all. January 21st 2003 marked the successful conclusion of the lengthy process of my purchase of the woods, a process which had started in July 2002 when I first heard that the woods were on the market. That chilly January evening I walked down to my friend in Bathpool & we shared a bottle of bubbly to celebrate – the walk back to Darley Cottage much later was very interesting, and it’s a good job there was very little traffic on the road that night!

Stara woodsEarly in February 2003, I organised another celebration, the first Open Woods event. Over 70 friends, friends of friends and others came down through the day to explore the woods, walk, and enjoy shared refreshments around a brazier provided by Dave Tyrie, one of our earliest Friends. In fact it was there that the idea of forming a Friends of Stara Woods support group came up. And, as with most subsequent Stara events, it involved cake, of course!

From then on life became a bit of a whirlwind, not to mention a very steep learning curve, so that by the end of August there’d been:

  • discussions with a consultant recommended by the Duchy
  • another gathering, a Summer Solstice celebration this time
  • getting to know the wonderful people who became the core of The Friends, most of whom are still supporting Stara Woods today
  • beginnings of setting up the Friends of Stara Woods – and the woods becoming known as Stara Woods, instead of Colquite, Broad & Treovis Woods, a bit of a mouthful!
  • drawing up of the first management plan
  • first meeting with Simon (BCTCV & Henwood Community Woodland, now a trustee and our chair)
  • Stara woodsmany discussions with Ele (Pentiddy Community Woodland)
  • a trip to Gloucester University to the first Community Woodland Network Conference (where among many other useful things I learned how to draw up a proper woodland management plan!)
  • the sale of Darley Cottage and purchase of Bracken Heights, that led to the eventual clearing of the mortgage I’d used to purchase the woods
  • the move out of Darley Cottage, with its memories of John, into Bracken Heights
  • beginning of articles about the woods in the Link What a year! It had quite literally turned my life upside down!