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                          Newsletter - Spring 2018

Concern for the environment fortunately seems to be on the increase in recent weeks, with the announcement of Government plans to shift the emphasis of agricultural support payments towards encouraging environmental improvements, and with the plans to spend £5.7 million to develop a new Northern Forest from Liverpool to Hull along the M62. In addition, the Forestry Commission is being given a renewed remit to “manage our public forests for public benefit – including supply of timber, public access, and the environment”, and a promise that “The Government will not allow any net reduction in the size of the Public Forest Estate”. However, with some 98 ancient woodlands being damaged or destroyed by the planned HS2 project and other continuing pressures, the need for continued concern remains strong. After many years of producing dazzling programmes which highlight the beauty of nature, the BBC is now fortunately adopting a more balanced approach that includes mention also of the very adverse impacts which human activity is having on our fragile natural environments, such as in our use of plastics in the recent Blue Planet - II series. Some greater awareness of the threats to our planet was also produced by Simon Reeve’s recent visit to Siberia, where climate change is opening up large holes in the permafrost, with the release of vast quantities of methane, which has a far greater adverse impact as a greenhouse gas than even carbon dioxide.


Our Spring programme reflects our need for continuing concern. Our first indoor meeting is an illustrated presentation by Dr Toni Bunnell, who has spent over 25 years running the York Hedgehog Rescue Centre and has carried out detailed research on the challenges facing our native hedgehogs, which used to be familiar visitors to our gardens. She has great expertise in the problems, and many of the solutions, facing our hedgehog population, and has in recent years published two books The Disappearing Hedgehog in 2014 and Rescuing the Disappearing the Hedgehog in 2016. Toni lectured in physiology at Hull University for over 16 years, and as well as being a wildlife biologist, is a singer-songwriter, musician, writer and broadcaster. Our first outdoor visit this Spring is to a recycling plant in Leeds to discover quite what happens to the many items of waste we dispose of for recycling. Details of these and our other events are given overleaf.


In Hagg Wood itself we are continuing to make steady improvements through our monthly Conservation Working Parties, whose dates are given overleaf, so please join us if you can. Also within the wood, the Forestry Commission has recently used a contractor to carry our extensive work on the footpaths and tracks. The work is more extensive than we were expecting, with many paths widened, though not everywhere in keeping with our suggestions for increasing the camber of the paths to obtain better drainage into improved side ditches, as had earlier been done along the Crater Track. Since the work was carried out in November rather than the generally drier month of September, it is already facing the challenges of drying out in more wintry conditions. Several new deeper side ditches have nevertheless been constructed, so we hope that the paths will ultimately prove to be less boggy than before. In the meantime, a good investment for walking in the wood is usually a good pair of wellington boots, such as can be obtained for less than £20 from Barnitts of York, a shop which still concentrates on selling  really useful things. Woodland walking in the fresh air of a peaceful natural environment is just one way in which trees can help promote good physical and mental health over many years. In this context, we send our congratulations to our oldest member, Arthur Horne, on reaching the age of 105 not out!