SIMON’S CONTRIBUTION – STARA’S CONIFERS

To improve the woods at Stara for wildlife and biodiversity, we are slowly removing areas of coniferous trees which have been growing there since the mid nineteenth century. These are being replaced with native species such as oak, birch and hazel but this is a slow process and it will probably take at least 50 years before all the conifer species are replaced. You can still spot six different species of conifer which have been introduced to Stara over the years and most of these are self seeding so it will not be easy to get rid of them.

memories - anne looks back to the first newsletter and the early management plan

There are a few old European Larch, Larix decidua, at the north end of Colquite wood, and one lone tree in the middle of Treovis wood (how did it get there?) Most of the larch which was cleared 10 years ago was Japanese larch ,Larix kaempferi, but several young trees have since reappeared around Broad Wood. Larch is easy to identify as it loses its needles in winter. The evergreen trees on the steep bank of Broad Wood are mainly Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga , with a few Norway spruce ,Picea abies.

The large trees along the river as you come into the woods are Douglas fir with some enormous Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis, planted back in the 1930’s. The name Sitka comes from the town of Sitka in Alaska which was the old Russian capital before it became part of the USA. Douglas fir and Sitka spruce were both first recorded by the Scottish botanist Archibald Menzies on a voyage along the pacific coast of Canada is 1792. It was another Scotsman, David Douglas who first explored the interior of British Columbia and Washington State in a series of epic expeditions between 1825 and 1834. On foot with local native guides, he not only discovered new species but sent home whole crates of conifer seed for widespread propagation across the UK. One of Douglas’ many introductions was the Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata, which you can find growing alongside the river at the far end of Colquite Wood. The foliage of Thuja can easily be confused with Lawson or Leyland Cypress, but it grows into a much larger tree and produces a beautiful pink timber which is lightweight and rot resistant. David Douglas was the greatest of all the imperial plant hunters but sadly met a grizzly end in 1835 when he fell into a bull pit while exploring in Hawaii. Spare him a thought as you next walk under his magnificent trees along the river.

MEMORIES – ANNE LOOKS BACK TO THE FIRST NEWSLETTER AND THE EARLY MANAGEMENT PLAN

The first newsletter came out in the summer of 2023, after we’d held a second Open Woods day and a Summer Solstice celebration. It contained the first attempt at a management plan for the woods, including the general overall aim stated as:

“The effective, ecological and sustainable management of the woods as an arts, environmental, educational, and recreational resource for the area, while maintaining their essential beauty and tranquillity”

It’s interesting to look back at what we achieved in the first 2 years:

  • Marking and creation of new footpaths in Colquite.
  • Creation of new drive and loading bay, clear felling and replanting of part of Broad Wood – thanks to the sterling efforts of all Friends and other volunteers involved in the replanting.
  • Drawing up of constitution and inaugural meeting of the Friends steering group.
  • Award of sustainability grant from Caradon Council – thanks to Alex Lochhead.
  • Siting of caravan in Broad Wood as temporary accommodation for our ‘willing woodsman’.
  • On-going work by Duncan for the next seven months, involving clearing and improving footpaths, improving the Chestnut Bridge, felling of some of the windthrown trees, brash burning, bramble weeding, etc., etc., ably assisted by many of you – grateful thanks to all.
  • Design, printing and distribution of new Friends leaflets – these paid for themselves on the first day that we started using them!
  • Display at Caradon Council’s ‘Sustainable Saturday’ event.
  • Two Woods Walk with Launceston Area Parish Wildlife Group (LAPWG) – a very good turnout.
  • ‘Dawn Chorus’ walk and breakfast.
  • Article in Small Woods Magazine.
  • Solstice brash burning party, with music afterwards – harps, guitars, fiddles, small pipes and voices!
  • Bushcraft Weekend in Broad and Treovis Woods.
  • Distribution of leaflets at Roadford Wood Fair.
  • Application for, and granting of, an Awards for All grant to construct a walkway for those with mobility problems in Colquite Wood, and start of work on the above footpath.
  • Successfulapplication for a Community Woodlands Trust grant for tools and equipment.
  • Talks with the Probation Service on having working parties coming into the woods.
  • Wildwoods Fun Day Starting the walkway.
  • Talks with Lisa Thomas of Liskeard Volunteer Bureau leading to using the woods for a MADD (Make A Difference Day) event.

memories - anne looks back to the first newsletter and the early management planA huge pat on the back for all involved back then in helping us get so much done over a relatively short time-span, particulary to those who’ve stayed the course and are still supporting the woods 20 years on, and a special recognition to two Friends who have died but contributed so much, Mike Todd and Dave Tyrie. Over the coming months the working bees are going to be starting work on the new path in Broad Wood in memory of Mike.

AND TO END:

It would be lovely to hear from any of you who have memories and/or photos of those early days of Stara Woods. Do get in touch.