Over the last couple of years we have been working on the woodland on the east bank of the river up above the car park, known as Colquite Wood. We are blessed with some huge Douglas firs in this wood, some think the tallest tree in Cornwall is amongst their number.
But there is only a little light that gets through the canopy these monster trees create and it is in this twilight zone that we are trying to encourage native species of tree to prosper, so when the tall trees either fall or are cleared at some stage in the future, we will have a ready made native woodland in place – part of our ultimate goal for the woods as a place of nature.
At this time of year the light enters this middle canopy from the side as the sun is fairly low in the sky. It’s a great time to view both the cathedral like ceiling of the Douglas way up high and below, the emerging buds of the oaks and beech.
The green is really beautiful and a great harbinger of spring, but it’s also a time for birds to nest, so the February and sometimes March working parties are the only chance we get to clear away the self seeded young Douglas and make way for the species we want to encourage. This is why we have been at this task for over 3 years !!!!
So we set to, and after a great effort by the group we managed to complete pretty much all the clearance we have been working on. Using mostly hand saws we split into 2 groups so Health and Safety risks were minimised. The land is very steeply
banked up from the river here so a well cut tree will fall up the bank and then is easily “personhandled” down to the track that runs through the middle of the wood. Much of the timber is left to rot on the ground where it fell. Dead wood is a major focus for conservation as it feeds and fuels a wealth of bugs and micro-organisms essential to the well-being of woodland – we have so much to learn yet but everything that has been already found suggests that trees can communicate with each other through this rich soil and even release nutrition from one tree to another or pass messages between trees to improve group defences against disease or other threat. It’s absolutely mind-blowing what goes on in the leaf mould under ground.
By choosing just a few of the felled trees, we were also able to make up fence posts which will be used for further work in the woods (see Jen’s piece), probably to be used next month across the river in Broadwood.
I was the last to leave the worksite this time and in the returning peace I had a moment of awe as I looked up at the majestic ceiling of the Douglas and the now cleared space for the younger trees we had created below. Sometimes there are moments when I feel so honoured and blown away to be doing this voluntary work – it is so important and rewarding – we can make a difference.