PIERS’ WORKING BEES REPORTSadly, our last mid week mid month working bee for 2023 had to be cancelled – the rain had been coming down for a couple of days and the underfoot conditions were horrible – given the planned work was around the riverbank we had little choice. But it was a beautiful day on Saturday 7th October so the regular first Saturday of the month Bee went full steam ahead. A couple of us repaired the tyre tracks left by the welders heavily laden vans, cleared a couple of trees that had fallen across paths and opened up some ditches ready for the winter.

PIERS’ WORKING BEES REPORTThe main event, however, was bridge-related. Pretty much everything around the woods at the moment is about the bridge – the response to our funding appeal has been phenomenal (thank you from me too!) so on October 5th, two days before our working Bee, Luke Shaw and his team were able to go ahead with the welding. As well as repairing the damaged welds, the guys reinforced each joint with extra plates over them so hopefully we have a stronger bridge than originally built.

Unfortunately there is still a lot of movement as the bridge is used, and we didn’t know how the 6 legs of the east pier were anchored in the bank. So our intrepid volunteers set about digging down, and down, and then down some more. Eventually we found footings, effectively 3 concrete slabs (parallel to the river) to which the steel legs are bolted.

PIERS’ WORKING BEES REPORTAs I write we haven’t finalised the next step, and the bridge is still closed but regardless, it is sure to require more help, so please get in touch if you fancy becoming a volunteer. Our next working bee will be on 4th November – 10.00 in the car park – see you there.

Meanwhile, quite apart from the bridge, Simon’s piece below illustrates just one of the many problems we have to cope with in our work to care for the woods and maintain the fine balance between the priority of preserving trees and habitat for the well-being of nature and the planet, and keeping the woods open for the benefit of humans.

Please play your part by joining the Friends, and/or, if you are able, joining our group of volunteer workers.

Important Information from Simon

Ash dieback disease continues to affect ash trees throughout the woods, and several large trees now have lost over half of their live crown. From the ground in a dense woodland, it is not easy to assess the health of the tree canopy 15 metres above your head. A tell-tale sign at Stara is a rapid increase in bramble growth underneath the infected ash trees. As the tree loses its leaves, more light gets through to the woodland floor and onto the bramble plants. Some of the trees along the top path through Treovis wood may become dangerous so a path diversion may be required. We will be inspecting the trees again in November, so look out for more information in December.