With the coronation weekend inconveniently fixed for the first weekend in May, our working party gave way to the Big Help Out.

THE BIG HELP OUT But Spring is a time for growth and rebirth and to meet the ever expanding demands of looking after Stara Woods, the Stara Working Bee efforts are going to be extended through the summer and early Autumn.

In addition to the monthly Bee on the 1st Saturday of each month we are going to hold mid month bees which will be on a Wednesday or Thursday, starting at 5pm.

By the time you read this we will have had one in May so the date for your diaries is June 14th…

As always, sensible footwear and clothes, refreshment and gardening gloves … see you there


8.30am in the morning, wet after heavy rain the night before, and we were there to set up for what we anticipated would be a damp squib of a day. Still, some hardy individuals might turn up, so we carried on, erecting one gazebo at the Stara Bridge entrance (with information about the South West’s temperate rainforests prepared by Jen & Simon), the other up at the barn with Jen’s fascinating dormouse display, and setting out the refreshments with the usual selection of Stara cakes.

The first walker to turn up, while we were still setting up, proved to be very interested, and wanted more information about the Friends as well as potentially having a young volunteer for us, too. A great start, cheering us all up. And so the day went on, overcast and with light rain coming and going, but also the interested visitors – by the end of the day I’d collected ten email addresses from those wanting further information, and some really good ideas to follow up on. Piers, Simon and Dan set off at about 10.30am with the first group on a highly informative guided walk, ending up at the barn for refreshments, with a second at about 12.30pm.


In the meantime, down at the entrance I met some lovely, interested and interesting people, and had some good conversations about Stara Woods and the work we do, and especially about the new and exciting information that we are within the South West Temperate Rainforest area (included in this area are two woods in Devon, Whistman’s Wood being one). If you want to know more about this, we intend to hold a session to follow up on this, with opportunities to become a Rainforest Supported and to start recording the important plants found in temperate rainforests. In the meantime, two very good sources are Guy Shrubsole’s book, “The Lost Rainforests of Britain”, now available in paperback (an interesting and very well-written book), and the Plant Life website

(plantlife.org.uk). On the website, go to Protecting Plants & Funghi, then follow the link to Temperate Rainforests. Meanwhile, here are a couple of quotes from the website:


Woodlands that are found in areas that are influenced by the sea, with high rainfall and humidity and damp climate are temperate rainforests. They are home to some intriguing and sometimes rare lower plants. These lower plants – the ferns, mosses, liverworts, and lichens – are ancient. They pre-date humans, flowers, trees and even dinosaurs.


Temperate rainforests are one of Britain and Ireland’s most important habitats. Like any rainforest around the world, they are home to a vast diversity of plants, with some species at risk of extinction as this habitat is their only known home. Temperate rainforest in south-west England tends to be less wet and somewhat warmer than its counterparts elsewhere in the UK, and it is therefore important for a number of ‘southern oceanic’ lichen and bryophyte species that are rare or absent elsewhere in the UK and Europe.

This beautiful photo of Shales Brook illustrates why parts of Stara may well be designated as temperate rainforest, and why we now need to do all we can through careful management of the woods to preserve and increase our temperate rainforests.

So all-in-all, The Big Help-Out proved to be a very useful day, well worth doing in spite of the weather, with the woods looking particularly beautiful, the trees clad in their new brilliant green finery. A big thanks to all who helped out and all who visited on the day. Look out for more information about some new volunteer groups we plan to set up so that those less keen on the ‘hands on’ physical work of the Bees, and more interested in helping in other ways, such as identifying, mapping & recording, and helping out with events, not to mention that perennial need, fundraising!