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News - December 2006

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A report on the residential tasks at The Mens in West Sussex is now available. Click here to find out what happened.

After much discussion, we have decided to stop publishing the paper Newsletter. It was felt that the effort involved in producing the letter was no longer justified. We will now producing a slim-line version, containing only the task and social programmes, on a four-monthly basis. For members without access to a computer, we will continue to send this out in paper form - for all other members, the new e-letter will be sent out by e-mail. The latter option will obviously reduce our expenses, and we will therefore make membership free to those who receive their letter in this manner.
For those of you who will mourn the loss of the newsletter articles, we will try to continue to produce these, but in future they will only be published here on the web-site.

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Dave J has managed to break into the world of paid environmental employment, by winning an 11 month contract from the Hampshire Wildlife Trust to be the Assistant Warden of Pamber Forest. Congratulations to Dave!

The Autumn 2006 task programme is now ready - click here for all the details.

Read about Graham's trip to Costa Rica here

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Task Reports

These now appear in reverse-chronological order - in other words, the most recent reports are just below while the older ones are at the bottom of the page.

17 December 2006 Pamber Forest Heathland Restoration / Maintenance

This year's pre-Christmas bash was held on the heathland section of the forest, near to the Burney Bit entrance. Despite some sore heads following the previous night's celebration (the BCV Christmas meal), plenty of energetic workers were on-site on a gorgeous sunny day.
Our task was to clear the regenerating heathland from invading scrub, which consisted mostly of scots pine and birch. Here are some pictures as the day progressed.

Preparing for morning tea Lunch time around a blazing fire
Russ, Mike and Graham start on tea-making Lunch time - in the sunshine around a blazing fire
Burning the cut material Mike adds another one to the fire
Burning of the cut material after lunch Mike gets in close to load on another branch to burn
25 June 2006 Pamber Forest Haymaking

This day's activities were in two parts, the major job being to rake up the hay in the glade near Beaumont's Brook, with any spare time used to trim vegetation back along the sides of nearby rides, thus ensuring that they remain sunny and attractive to butterflies. The hay-making is an essential part of the management of the glade - if this was not done, the grasses and flowering plants would eventually disappear as shrubs and trees move in.
Due to a good turn-out, including Debbie, a new volunteer, the hay raking was complete by lunch time, so the afternoon was spent on the rides. Below are some pictures from the hay making.
Leader Dave Jewsbury

Tina with a load of hay for the heap ... Dibgy and Ray get busy with their rakes
Tina takes another load of hay to one of the heaps .... ... while Digby and Ray rake up the cut vegetation
Time for a break ... The crew
Time for a breather ... ... team photo - smile please!
18 December 2005 Inham's Copse Ride-widening

It was back to Inham's copse for the last task of 2005. A beautiful, but cold, day welcomed us. We continued the work that wsa begun two weeks earlier, pushing on towards the meadow.

Paul, Ray and Garham load the fire ... Lunchtime
Paul, Ray and Graham add to the fire, while the volcano boils the water for the lunchtime brew. It's lunchtime, and we take a breather.
4 December 2005 Inham's Copse Ride-widening

This was the first of several tasks that we'll be spending at Inham's copse during the winter. Having coppiced the area to the south of the ride last year, now it is time to open up the area to the north side of the ride. We're starting near to the entrance, and working our way down to the meadow.

Tina makes a start ... A good start has been made
Here Tina sets to work on the bank. ... By late morning, there's already a good area cleared.
Late afternoon
It's near the end of the day, and time to tidy up before heading home.

6 November 2005 Fleet Pond Alder cutting

A day of cutting back Alder trees that are invading the margins of the pond ...

Dave watches Mike down another alder The newly opened up area
Here Dave watches on as Mike tackles another large alder... ... and this picture gives an idea of the area opened up.

23 October 2005 North Warnboro Green Scrub removal

Our job on this day was to remove an area of scrub that was invading the Green near to the ford. The problems arose after a temporary fence was erected across the corner of the Green to prevent the livestock from eating the foliage on the yew trees that border it. Unfortunately, the temporary fence was never removed, and so scrub invaded the area that the animals could no longer graze.

Our job was to remove the fence, cut back the scrub and ensure that no yew branches were within browsing reach for the ponies and cattle.

The major parts of the job were to cut back some large willow trees and a great thicket of bramble.

We burnt most of the cut material, with the exception of the large chunks of willow-branch, which were stacked near to the boundary of the Green. Below are some pictures of the day's activities.

Lots of cutting done A small opening appears
We've cut a lot of the scrub back, but there's a lot of clearing up to do... ... and here is the first sign that we're opening things up.
Clearance speeds up At last, we see some results
We've finally cleared enough space to start burning the cut material in earnest - now we start to see some real progress... ... and now, it's just some odds and ends to finish off, including a few trips to the ford to collect water to dowse the fire.

18 September 2005 Greenham Common Alder Clearance

BCV joined forces with the Greenham and Crookham Common CVs to revitalise some old spring heads that produce a pond - or rather, used to. An increase in the growth of alder within the pond basin, coupled with a dry year, had left the area devoid of water, the only soggy ground being round the heads. The mud around these places was stained brown and orange by the seepage of water carrying iron-oxide from the plateau above.

No fewer than 16 people were involved that day and the yound and semi-mature trees were soon biting the dust. Though soft, the trees still had springing sap and some were hard to fell, but the massed bands of the two groups managed it.

During the day, two frogs and a small but aggressive toad provided some diversion from the work in hand. One particular problem that had to be overcome, was a very steep slope between the 'pond' bottom and vegetation disposal area. That was coped with by an ingenious arrangement of human muscle and strong ropes, used to haul the cut timber to the upper level.

The day ended with a tired but satisfied group quietly surveying the extensive area that hours ago had been dense scrub.

4 September 2005 Pamber Forest Coppicing

The beginning of the Autumn/Winter coppicing programme in Pamber Forest. This year we are continuing to extend the ride-side coppice next to Long Ride at the northern end of the Forest.

An excellent turn out meant that we made excellent progress, though the density of the trees in the work area made access difficult. The first job was to clear the area along which we would be building a dead-hedge, and while some of us did this, others carried out some running-repairs on the hedge protecting the area coppiced last year.

Once we were able make a start on the new hedge, we divided the troups into a coppicing group, a stake making-and-erecting group and a hedge-filling group.

By the end of the day, we'd managed to build a 40-50m length of hedge, and cleared a wide strip of coppice alongside the hedge.

The hedge just begins to emerge The hedge is now taking shape
Looking along the hedge-line, the clearance work has made a path, and the hedge is just beginning to take shape. At the end of the afternoon, a long green wall shows that the hedge now extends well into the copse. It will look much neater after the top bindings are added during a future task.

17 July 2005 Pamber Forest Haymaking

It's time for the quintessential high-summer job - haymaking. This annual task makes sure that this glade in the forest does not become invaded by scrub and saplings. The cut material is stacked onto heaps, to prevent the nutrients it contains from being returned to the soil, as this would encourage the more aggresive plant species.

Raking up the cut grass Pete adds another bundle onto the heap
Raking up the cut grass and flowers ... ... and here Pete adds to one of the resultant heaps.