MINUTES of the Eighth Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Hagg Wood held at the Reading Room, Dunnington, on Wednesday 10th May 2006.


PRESENT  Brian Walker, speaker, David Mayston, Chairman, Linda Maggs, Treasurer, Ron Bielby, Mike Clarke, Barbara Pyrah, Tony & Elaine Hudson, Jim Smart, Olwyn Fonseca, David & Lily Rowe, John Maggs, Nigel Emery, Pat Staniland, Violet Price, Jenny Brooks and Stephen & Celia Moorhouse.

APOLOGIES  There were apologies from John Rodwell, John & Margy Vernon, George Staniland, Alan & Wendy Worsley, Jennie Stopford, Ian & Lita Black, Mr & Mrs East, Mr & Mrs Kay, Steve Ashby, Jo Rodwell and Paula Kendrick.

Linda read out part of Jo's letter "..and pass on our appreciation for all the hard work so far, and the wonderful display of bluebells, primroses, anemones, wood sorrel and violets -just beautiful.... the butterflies have been a joy too - brimstones, peacocks, tortoiseshell, orange tips, speckled wood and holly blues and yesterday a red admiral and green veined whites.." Jo had contributed some stunning paintings of the wood to be sold on behalf of FHW funds, Barbara had brought some lovely cowslips and other plants to be sold, and Tony had brought some photographs, which added to a very colourful display.

MINUTES The minutes of the seventh AGM, 11th May 2005 were accepted as a true record.


David welcomed everyone to the meeting and said the association was delighted to welcome Brian Walker, Conservation Officer of the Forestry Commission, as guest speaker. David outlined another busy and active year with two interesting talks by members: 'Impact of Climate Change' by Dr Richard Baker and 'Deer in Lowland Woods' by Dr Jim Smart. Both had been lively, stimulating evenings, much enjoyed by members. The Woodland Trust had supported a planting programme in the autumn to celebrate the Battle of Trafalgar - 60 native saplings/shrubs had been planted. Catherine Brason of Forest Enterprise had organised a series of events for schoolchildren, which had proved very popular. Working parties had been held regularly, to clear bramble and rhododendron; 15 bird boxes had been erected and a 1600 grant had been received from York Neighbourhood Pride, which had funded BTCV to clear and create a new footpath. It is hoped that a historic landscape survey will take place in the autumn in association with conservation work by BTCV.

David reminded members that the FHW group was formed in 1996, ten years ago, and even though the original objective of determining the footpath claims was still unresolved, much other good work had been done. Several parties were involved in the footpath claims (Church Commissioners, Forestry Commission and the landowners, Mr & Mrs Drummond). Agreement had nearly been reached a year ago but at the last minute it fell through. The landowners have offered a permissive path agreement, but this is not considered to be a satisfactory solution as a new landowner could overturn it; it is important that the claim is settled for the long term. However, many objectives had been achieved such as Community Woodland status and the acceptance by the FC of the management recommendations for conservation. David urged all members to carry on supporting the association. David announced an outing to Potteric Carr, a YWT reserve, where member Andrew Cochrane, Deputy Warden, will show the party around. Celebrations for the FHW 10th anniversary will be arranged later in the year.


Linda thanked David for his dedicated leadership over the past ten years. He had worked tirelessly for the aims and objectives of the association and members sincerely appreciated his commitment.Linda said that the association would miss two members, Harry Tyson and Peter Griffiths, who had sadly died during the year; both had been loyal members from the early years.Linda presented the accounts, which had been audited, and they were accepted as a true record. A grant had been received from York Neighbourhood Pride for BTCV and the FC had also given a grant to help with the insurance payment. The Katalyst Concert had been enjoyable and a financial success and, after the purchase of a noticeboard, money had been donated to Revenge Wood and Trees for Palestine. Linda thanked members for renewing their subscriptions and members who gave an extra donation.


   Ken Sutcliffe was given warm thanks for acting as auditor for FHW and was re-elected to this position.


The following members had been nominated for election: Ron Bielby, Olwyn Fonseca, John & Linda Maggs, David Mayston, John Rodwell, Jim Smart, Tony Hudson, Caroline Stockdale and Margy Vernon.   They were duly elected.


David introduced the speaker, Brian Walker, to talk on Restoring Ancient and Native Woodlands.

Brian began by congratulating FHW on their ten-year anniversary and urged the group to make arrangements for archiving their records. Scarborough Field Naturalists read out minutes of 100 years ago and interesting details of manner and style had been recorded, providing a valuable historical resource.

Brian said that in the early days of his career, in the 1980s, the FC had been in a period of transition. After the war there had been a great drive to plant a massive number of conifer trees but now there was much greater conservation awareness. However, Brian said that no-one need be an apologist for planting conifer trees; they at least kept woods as woods, and some foresters had become outstanding field naturalists. Policies radically changed in the 1980s when questions were asked about the purpose of forests - from being purely a timber resource they now had economic, wildlife, public access, heritage and cultural aspects and the process of change towards restoring native woodlands was speeding up.

At least 10% of our forests have ancient heath land origins, possibly much more. Reasty Bank and Broxa Forest go back to the last Ice Age and some heathland dates from the quaternary age. Cracks can be seen on the clay material with water on the surface and ice polygons - not common but they can be identified. Academic ideas on the origin of forestry are quite varied: Oliver Rackham, George Peterkin and France Vera all have different theories although it is generally thought that there were extensive savannah grasslands covering large regions as well as forests. Pollen analysis is not always correct, as recorders may be selective in what they are looking for. There is significant evidence of early man in great numbers on the NY Moors with 600 scheduled ancient monuments. Nowadays arable farmland, industry, woods and populations are all compartmentalised.

Why restore native woodlands and protect ancient trees? The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1994 stressed the need to protect and enhance the biodiversity of woodlands and sustainability became a key concept. UKWAS and the Forest Stewardship Council carry out regular audits to make sure that forests are well managed with sustainability a key factor. A survey has recently been carried out to prepare an inventory of Planted Trees on Ancient Woodland Sites and Ancient Semi-Natural Sites, but unfortunately it does not cover areas less than 5ha. fillers Wood, Salmon Wood, Ox Close Wood on Sutton Bank near Helmsley are all well worth visiting, and Ingles Wood, near Scarborough is famous for its dormice. Duncombe Park has the most important collection of ancient trees in the north, some up to 800 years old.

Soil and climate determine what grow best in any particular area and habitats build up networks. Some birds of prey like conifers, and Newtondale may be a place where conifers look natural. Junipers are rare on the NY Moors although there is a suspicion that some place names like Yew Tree Scar are misnamed and should perhaps be Juniper. Some networks may need to be managed eg fritillaries like violets. Whenever one ecosystem is replaced with another there will be winners and losers; fungi are very sensitive to change and nightjar would lose out if all conifers were removed from a particular area. The removal of brash is just not acceptable nowadays and lowland heath is to be encouraged. Lodge Pole Pine needs to be kept in check as it is a prolific self-seeder and is spreading on to the moors. In Sievedale crab apples grow; they are not good at self-seeding so seeds are being collected to increase numbers. Hagg Wood has a relationship with other habitats, and the lack of drainage determines the type of species that will flourish.

Brian encouraged FHW to be expansive in their views and encouraged the group to work with nature and to be patient. He then answered questions from the audience.

David thanked Brian for a very stimulating and lively talk and thanked the audience for their attendance. Three paintings and all the plants were sold and David gave Jo and Barbara a vote of thanks for their contribution to the funds of FHW.

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