Piers’ Working Party Report November 2022The decision to go ahead with a working party or cancel due to rain is always tricky as illustrated this month – when I walked the dogs through the woods at 8.30 on Saturday morning it was tipping down and I had decided it was a no go, but just as I was towelling them down out came the sun and it stayed out long enough for us to get the work done.

Our work in the woods is clearly divided into necessary maintenance task (such as cleaning the bridge and clearing drains) and more interesting ones (like replacing the ever present conifers with native oak and beech) which make us feel we are making progress in getting the woods back to a more environmentally secure state for both the wild residents in the woods and us visitors.

This month it was one of the harder maintenance jobs, but no less necessary for all that. As mentioned in last month’s Link we had to clear away the dying bracken before it crushed the young trees we have planted in Broadwood. This year it was particularly daunting as the path up into the new plantation had disappeared – under dying bracken!!!!!

But actually, as we started work, it became clear firstly how worthwhile the work was (as shown in the before and after pictures attached) but secondly how quickly one can make a difference. The tree shown took me a couple of minutes to find and then a further 2 minutes to clear around and straighten up within its supporting shelter, over all a 5 minute reset that otherwise would have meant the death or severe damaging of a young tree that had been nurtured initially in a forestry nursery and then purchased and planted by us over the past 2-4 years.

A quick bit of finger mathematics and I realised that the 5 volunteers that turned out and worked for 4 hours have probably changed the lives of between 200 and 250 trees – that is a quite extraordinary statistic – why wouldn’t anyone want to make that much of a difference to our constantly jeopardised environment.

OK, so the cynics amongst you, dear readers, (oops – sorry! Just finished a binge watch of Bridgeton) will say “that’s a bit too obvious a recruiting advert Piers” and in one way you are not wrong – we desperately need more help to achieve all our goals. As the footfall increases in the woods so the work needed to protect our environment from damage increases.

Then again – why shouldn’t I challenge you all – we watch any amount of TV shows from Springwatch to Frozen Planet and think to ourselves “how beautiful”, “what a shame” and “how sad”, but what about the question “WHAT CAN MY FAMILY AND I DO TO MAKE A DIRECT DIFFERENCE?” ?

There are, naturally, those among us who cannot get involved with physical activities in steep woodland with very limited toilet facilities (!). But my challenge to all those others out there who care about the environment and who enjoy Stara as the most beautiful place it surely is, to come and make a difference …..

  • like the volunteers did last Saturday – “200 to 250 trees saved by 4 hours work by 5 volunteers”,
  • or “getting the family out for a bit of exercise”
  • or “I need some fresh air “
  •  ….

for goodness sake, it is a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Practically, we help all new volunteers with suitable tools and training (where needed) and there is absolutely no need to sign up to all 12 working parties per year or even 4 hours straight. But (stretching the story above) 25 people offering a couple of hours every 3 months would be the equivalent of giving life to 2,400 trees trees every year – my head is exploding with the potential.

Rant over folks (and sorry!) – please consider joining us on November 5th at 10.00am in the Stara Car Park. Wear sensible footwear, clothing and bring a flask of your favourite warm beverage and you will be welcomed with open arms. Any questions please call me (01577 363748)

ANNE’S ADDITION: Please don’t forget that the working parties are not the only way you can contribute to Stara Community Woods. We also need people with ideas for events and fundraising, and most of all to become Friends of Stara Woods, our regular contributes that have been our lifeblood since the beginning, nearly 20 years ago now, and with the demise of support from the Forestry Commission, even more important. We suggest that people give no more than they can afford, as all contributions count, from £1 a month on. Email me letting me know what you would like to contribute, either with ideas, with organising an event, or by becoming a Friend or inviting people you know to join. We’re very grateful to everyone

As always, thank you to everyone of our Friends and volunteers for your continued support. It makes it all worthwhile.