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                       Friends of Hagg Wood

                                Newsletter - Spring 2012

 One of our main current projects in the wood is that of improving the conservation value of the areas around the bomb craters and around the pond in the bluebell area of the wood. With the help of an Awards for All grant from the Big Lottery Fund and of volunteers from the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV), and the earlier felling of several conifers and sycamore trees in these areas by the Forestry Commission, these areas are being steadily transformed into much more attractive sites for birdlife and other native species of flora and fauna. The bomb craters in particular have been cleared of much debris, and the areas around them and around the pond in the bluebell area are now much more open to the skies for sunlight to encourage nature to flourish. In order to provide a continuing source of food for the birds and other wildlife, we will be planting around the edges of these areas hazel, rowan, blackthorn and hawthorn saplings that we have been given as part of a Woodland Trust Wildlife pack for its Jubilee Woods initiative. Also included in this pack are oak saplings that we plan to plant in the area that has also recently been cleared to the right of the main forestry stone road near the entrance from Intake Lane. We also propose to plant a larger oak tree on the corner of this area in memory of FHW founder member Ron Bielby who died last year. You are very welcome to join us on our proposed planting days of Saturdays 11th and 25th February, from 10am to 1pm, meeting initially beside the FHW Noticeboard at the entrance to the wood. Please bring a spade and gloves, and wear wellies or stout shoes. We have also arranged for your enjoyment several other indoor and outdoor activities (more details here). Please put the dates in your diary to make sure you do not miss them! Within the wood, as well as our usual wonderful Springtime display of bluebells, primroses and wood anemones, we can look forward later in the year to a magnificent display of foxgloves, whose seeds have been exposed by last year’s extensive thinning of the conifers.

Later this Spring we expect to hear the results of the deliberations of the Independent Panel on the Future of Forestry that was set up by the Government after the public outcry over its initial plans to dispose of many Forestry Commission forests and woodlands, including potentially Hagg Wood. Several members of the Independent Panel recently visited Yorkshire, and our Chairman, Dr David Mayston, and Secretary, Linda Maggs, were able to meet with them for several hours during their visit to Pickering to impress upon them the importance of the vital role which the Forestry Commission plays in supporting Community Woodlands, such as Hagg Wood. The interim Progress Report which the Independent Panel published shortly afterwards itself stressed the value for money which the net cost of £20 million of the Forestry Commission to the public exchequer represents, and which it concluded “appears very modest and generates benefits far in excess of this”. The Independent Panel’s Progress Report also stressed the need to review the objectives of the Forestry Commission to include more than simply timber production. If these objectives are broadened to include public access, environmental improvement and community support, this is something we could support. The full version of their Progress Report can be viewed here.  We therefore await with interest their Final Report that is due out in April 2012, and the Government’s response to their conclusions.

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