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                                                                            Newsletter - Autumn 2016

Our twentieth birthday celebration on Saturday 4th June in the beautiful summer sunshine proved to be very successful, with magnificent music from Dunnington Community Choir and the local folk group Woodsmoke drifting through the trees from the log circle where we held our celebrations. Two former MPs, Frank Dobson, who was born in Dunnington and has a cottage near the wood, and John Grogan, who used to be our local MP for Selby, also joined us, to commemorate their original help in raising public and official awareness in the House of Commons of the threats to public access for Hagg Wood, and which enable us still to enjoy Hagg Wood as an important part of the local natural environment. The main initial event when local residents got together to protest against government plans to sell off the Forestry Commissionís interest in the wood though came not in summer sunshine, however, but on 4th November 1996, when there was a march along the Stone Track under a beautifully illustrated banner that carried the title of Dunnington Friends of Hagg Wood and which reached the pages of national newspapers and the screens of regional television. Let us hope that woodlands in the Public Forest Estate do not face similar threats in the coming years of uncertainty as they have done in the past, since they are an important part of our national heritage.

We have been able to achieve a great deal in the last twenty years, but there is still much useful work to be done. Woodlands can provide an oasis for the refreshment of local people in an enjoyable outdoor natural environment, and for the sustenance of native flora and fauna. While we have been able to maintain our subscription at a consistently moderate level over many years, we have benefited recently from a number of generous donations, and most recently from funds left by one of our own founding committee members, Barbara Pyrah, who unfortunately died earlier this year, but who was herself an expert local naturalist with a great passion for the contribution Hagg Wood can make to the local environment. We can therefore now plan ahead on a long-term basis work that will have a significant impact on the attractiveness of Hagg Wood for native flora and fauna, and for its visitors to enjoy. We have already started key parts of this work, with much of the brash that was left along Chambers Way now cleared by our recent conservation working parties to yield a very attractive wide avenue that has had on one side a rich display of foxgloves which local bumblebees have been visiting avidly and on the other side shallow pools that are a welcoming home to water-loving plants and amphibians within the wood. We are planning to further extend the bluebell area of the wood, which this Spring gave us a magnificent display, with help from The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) and our own recently reinforced army of brushcutters to tackle invasive bramble.

In addition, we are planning a major push on improving the wood as a habitat for butterflies, drawing upon our recent links with Butterfly Conservation, and establishing more areas for glades and associated wildflower species, that can help to overcome recent declines in native butterfly populations. Complementary to this work will be the building upon our recent links with the Urban Buzz initiative of Buglife to increase the attractiveness of the wood to native bees and other pollinators, which have also declined in the wider environment in recent years, due to changes in farming practices, climate change and many other pressures. The major ground clearance work we have already undertaken in the Crater area and elsewhere in the wood is good preparation for us to build  on. So there is plenty for us to move forward with, so that we can achieve even more in the next 20 years!

Please e-mail our membership secretary on elainehudson@talktalk.net or give Elaine a call on York 481520 if you have not yet renewed your subscription for 2016-17.

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