South West end of year review 2018
As the year draws to a close, we wanted to keep you up to date with news from the South West.
It has been a busy year but we’ve achieved a huge amount for woods and trees with your help.
Next year’s plans see new volunteering opportunities and a couple of woodland acquisitions (fingers crossed) alongside efforts to work on a wider landscape scale. All of our efforts are aimed at bringing woods and trees to the forefront of people’s minds in order to improve the chances for our wildlife. This cannot be done in isolation and much of our work, especially the larger projects, is being undertaken through partnership working with other organisations.
So here is a summary of what we have all achieved in 2018 and opportunities for next year.
Down in the woods
Our seven site managers typically look after 20-30 woods each, often spread across wide areas. Apart from the help they get from our woodland working groups, we now have a contracts manager on the team, who looks after the contracts for the larger scale forestry management such as timber harvesting, woodland thinning and track works.
This work has included improving access and signs across our main sites – making sure visitors feel welcome and for those who are new to the wood, helping them to have a sense of where they can walk and what they can see.
You may have come along to one of our events in 2018, we’ve got plenty more planned for 2019. Together with our sites, the events are part of our work to help people understand more about woodland management and how this positively impacts our wildlife, as well as introducing our woods to new audiences.
As of January, we’re welcoming a new estate manager to the team. Stan Abbot worked for many years in the South West but most recently he has been in the same role for the Woodland Trust in the South East. Stan will be leading the site manager team and we look forward to showing him round the Woodland Trust treasures of the South West.
Our most exciting news on the estate this year has been our efforts to purchase Avoncliff Wood near Bath, and by January we hope to have full ownership of the wood and adjoining fields. This gives us the opportunity to take it into our care and buffer this undisturbed ancient woodland. We want to start managing Avoncliff Wood to protect and enhance the wildlife found there – particularly challenging given the level of ash trees and ash dieback found there.
Reaching out beyond out our woods
Our new outreach team works beyond our woodland estate talking to landowners and offering advice on ancient woodland management and planting new trees and hedges. In 2018, 270 ha of ancient woodland have been committed to restoration and 250 ha of new woodland planned through schemes like Morewoods.
We’ve been working with Wiltshire County Council to support their ambitious planting project to plant 10,000 trees in memory of the men and women who died in the First World War.
We have also started creating a new wood at Pack Hill in Swindon working with Swindon Council and Nationwide Building Society.
Catherine, our external affairs officer, has also been busy working with local government, with a highlight of the year being Bristol City Council‘s pledge to double its tree canopy by 2050 – a real coup as local people protest against felling of urban trees in hotspots like Sheffield. Alongside the Woodland Trust’s campaign to protect street trees, the Bristol Talking Trees Campaign won an award in the national Street Trees award ceremony in London.
Heading further west, in Devon, a Wood for Good workshop explored routes to invigorate the Devon trees and woods sector. Whilst in Cornwall we hosted the Cornwall Canopy Conference for over 60 individuals and organisations. All these events enable us to get woods and trees on councils’ and other organisations’ agendas – ensuring they are at the forefront of local government plans.
Volunteering – that’s you!
We can’t do this without you. Whether you are campaigning for trees, speaking at organised groups, undertaking aspects of woodland management, being our eyes and ears, assessing woods and trees or monitoring wildlife, (hope we haven’t missed anyone out) – your time, effort, knowledge and skills are invaluable. We couldn’t achieve what we do without you.
It was fabulous to have the opportunity to say thank you at our volunteer awards ceremony and we had some great winners and nominees from the South West.
Here they are. Click on the links to watch short videos about their work.
Adam Collett – Winner of the Bluebell Award for individual volunteers that stand out for their work on the ground in our woods.
Fingle Woods Volunteers – Winners of a special recognition award.
Hayden Gabriel – Shortlisted Nominee for the Hazel Award which recognises the impact of a new volunteer.
Other nominees were:
Dr David Guiterman, volunteer warden
Peter Sizer, volunteer warden
Derek Yeomans, volunteer warden and wildlife recorder
Well done to all!
Whittle is the place to be
If this is your first visit to Whittle – welcome. Here you will find new volunteering opportunities (such as the Duncliffe historical researcher volunteer and opportunities presenting at Fingle) – keep looking in case you feel like a change or have a friend who may be interested in supporting us.
We put updates from around the South West here too – so if you want to tell others what you are doing – let Amanda know and she can add your news.
And new for 2019 – Ross Kennerley (regional manager for the South West) will be giving updates about what is happening throughout the year. You are a big part of what we do and we are looking forward to catching up at our networking and thank you events.
Dates for your diary:
Devon and Cornwall network event – Saturday 30 March
Whole region thank you event – Saturday 1 June
Bristol, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire & Hereford network event – Saturday 13 July
Dorset and Wiltshire network event – Saturday 7 September
The dates are chosen to try and avoid school holidays and the winter months when most woodland working groups are at their busiest.
Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of our volunteers, thank you for everything you do from Ross Kennerley and the South West team