Monthly Archives: January 2011

Death to the trees – huh?

Many people do not appreciate why trees are cut down in managed woodland. From my point of view they are cut down to provide me with raw materials. From an environment perspective they are cut down for the benefit of woodland.

I work in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a govt. designated area of land where development  and other activities are regulated.

On Monday I will be cutting down trees.  Here are some of them:

These are self-seeded sycamores.  Nothing wrong with that. Except that this is a SSSI.  With a management plan.  This is not wildwood.  There is none in England.  All woodland in England has been managed for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of years (OK more than 1,000 years is thousands – right?)

Strid Wood SSSI is so designated for these reasons:

“Ordnance Survey Sheet 1: 50,000: 104 1: 10,0000: SE 05 NE
First Notified: 1985 (December)
Other Information:

The south-west bank is intensively used for recreation, and nature trails have been set out.
Description:
Strid Wood contains the largest area of acidic oak woodland and the best remnant of oak wood-pasture in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The wood is set astride the River Wharfe which here runs through a deep steep-sided valley cut into Millstone Grit and Carboniferous Limestone.

The southwest bank has been much altered by forestry practice. The native oak Quercus petraea, and ash Fraxinus excelsior are accompanied by plantations of beech Fagus sylvatica, sycamore Acer pseudoplatanus, poplar Populus sp. and conifers such as larch and Douglas fir.
The very edge of the river however remains largely neutral, with elm and alders. Soil conditions on this side of the valley appear less acidic, and the ground flora is rich, with stands of dog’s mercury Mercurialis perennis, ramsons Allium ursinum, sanicle Sanicula europaea and sweet woodruff Asperula odoratum. The uncommon yellow star of Bethlehem Gagea lutea is found here.
The wood is valued by naturalists for its important populations of many groups of plants and animals. There is a rich bryophyte flora, several species being rare of very local in distribution, including Dicranum montanum, Cinclicotus mucronatus, Fissidens rufulus, Nowellia curvifolia and Sphagnum quinquefarium. A wide variety of fungi occur two species Coprinus subpurpureus and Deconica rhombispora, being first British records. Woodland management by selective felling rather than clear-felling has ensured a continuity of tree-cover, and has favoured the growth of a rich lichen-flora: indeed Strid Wood is considered one of the best lichen woods in Yorkshire.
Amongst the most notable species recorded are Arthonia didyma, Thelotrema lepadinum, Cladonia parasitica and Endocarpon pusillum. The wood is also noted for the occurrence of the local molluscs Acanthinula lamellata and Lauria anglica.

Over sixty species of birds have been recorded, forty-four of these breeding, including pied flycatcher, wood warbler and goosander.”

This is the designation by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

OK so, ash and oak are the principal inhabitants, they are being encouraged and the invaders, mainly sycamore and beech are being discouraged (cut down).

Ash in Strid is a prolific generator and if left alone would produce a woodland of over crowded trees.  So what we do is remove some of the weaker trees, so that the small trees can become big healthy trees that will go forward for years (and centuries) to come.

Here are the marked men:

The little ones here are just taking the ground goodness and light away from the larger ash tree at centre right.  So the ones with the green spots will be cut, and the bigger ash will flourish.  This is not wild wood – the trees would be much bigger – it is managed woodland.  Enjoy.

Like the sunset:

Foxfire

This book was a birthday present from the New Yorkers (my son Will and his wife Eva).  It is an extraordinary book, a collection of articles researched by school kids in the late 1960s and first published in a Northeast Georgia school magazine.  This volume (and there are at least 10 more) concerns home life in The Appalachians and is full of first-hand stories of a life gone by with pictures diagrams and photographs.  It reminds me of The Whole Earth Catalogue vein of culture. It tells history in a much more immediate way somehow that some books on English country life which, while interesting and informative, seem to be more remote from the people who lived e.g. in The Yorkshire Dales as the information about the people is less and more about their skills and equipment (However, I was reading a fascinating account of oatbread making in Life and Tradition in The Yorkshire Dales by M Hartley and J Ingilby but that’s another story!).

Anyway in Foxfire amongst a lot of other fascinating things I’ve not had a chance to read as yet there’s a picture of Bill Lamb’s shave horse.  I think this is the most minimalist horse I’ve ever seen.

It was used for dressing shingles.

I thoroughly recommend at least this volume of Foxfire (which is the first one) and I will definitely be dipping in to volume 4 which appears to have a something on the pole lathe:

(By the way, I’m aware of the criminal problem with the editor in later years, but he has probably suffered enough over that)

And on that subject I can report that the Japanese style minimalist cleaving break works really well.  I’ll take a photo today of the one I’ve made from a sycamore log I’ve had lying around.