19 January 2020
A photo that Paul took this morning at the first Conservation Morning of 2020. We had Ranger James with us today
NATIONAL TREE WEEK
National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration, inspiring communities across the UK to plant thousands of trees each year. The campaign began in response to the Dutch Elm Disease crisis in the 1960s, which wiped out more than 20 million Elms.
Recently the Friends of Gillfield Wood received from OVO Energy, through the Conservation Volunteers, a generous donation of a variety of trees and shrubs for planting; 200 in total. They arrived just in time for the group to take part in the National Tree Week celebration and carry out the planting of a majority of these 200 whips at the west end of Gillfield Wood on Sunday 24th November last year.
Some of the shrubs such as Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Dogwood and Guelder Rose were added to a hedgerow we have recently created at the edge of the wood around the bus terminus area. Rowan and Crab Apple trees were also planted in the nearby picnic area. In addition Willow trees and Alder trees were planted within the woodland that was created approximately 27 years ago at that end of Gillfield Wood. These latter trees should take well to the damper conditions this area has to offer, but only time will tell.
On the following Saturday, November 30th, a small group of Friends of Gillfield Wood members planted some Silver Birch and Downy Birch whips in another part of the wood to celebrate Tree Charter Day. Hopefully these whips will eventually create a small stand of birches within the wood to go some way towards replacing a good number of old birch trees that have sadly fallen down through rotting with age or have succumbed to high winds.
The call for a Tree Charter was initiated in 2015 by the Woodland Trust in response to the crisis facing our trees and woods in the UK. The Charter for Trees, Woods and People was launched at Lincoln Castle in November 2017, on the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest in 1217; it sets out the principles for a society in which people and trees stand together.
Trees do so much for us every day, such as improving air quality, storing carbon, conserving water, preserving soil, supporting wildlife and improving our wellbeing; it is therefore vital that we continue to plant trees, especially as we are due to lose so many through diseases. It is understood that we need to plant, throughout the UK, around 30,000 hectares of trees every year for the next thirty years, this is approximately the size of the Isle of Wight in trees every year. Quite mind boggling, but we hope you will be inspired to plant a tree this year, if you can, or perhaps join in the National Tree Week celebration next November.
Today, December 16th 2019, walking in Gillfield Wood members of Baslow WI and Nordic Walking Derbyshire met with a group of your volunteers, clearing the path and cutting back growth making the wood more accessible for everyone. Our thanks go to them. It was lovely to meet and chat with them whilst they enjoyed a short coffee break.
Keep up the good work, we will look forward to returning in the New Year. We will share news of your work with our members.
Ann McPhie, Joint Secretary Baslow WI.
Great News! The way markers have been found and put back. Lets hope they are left alone this time!!!
On the last Sunday of April a small team of volunteers gathered at the bus terminus on Baslow Road to carry out conservation work at the west end of Gillfield Wood. The work on this occasion was weeding between a strip of hedgerow saplings that had been newly planted last year. Once weeded a few dead saplings had to be replaced with Hawthorn whips and then wheel-barrow loads of mulch were applied to the whole hedgerow to protect and encourage growth. This is just one example of the type of work undertaken by the Friends of Gillfield Wood to maintain and improve the habitat of our local woodland.
We work closely with the Council in agreeing all work undertaken and a big thanks has to go to Chris Roberts, our Sheffield CC Woodland Ranger, for his ongoing support and guidance at each monthly event. He brings along the necessary material and equipment; we normally meet on a Sunday at 10am and finish before 1pm. Volunteers can come and go as they please. It is a great atmosphere with plenty of chatting, especially when the tea and coffee is served by Chris during a welcome break. And most importantly there is both light and heavy work to cater for all ages and abilities, and we always stress “no experience is necessary”; we just have a good and very rewarding time.
A couple of months ago, the team were busy repairing two dry stone walls that had collapsed in that same area. It just makes it so much nicer for anyone visiting the wood to see these old walls in a good state. That is why we were particularly proud when we managed to rebuild the long boundary wall at that west end. This wall is just on the edge of the main part of the wood and runs up the steep banking, from the pond to the top wall on the north side of the wood, so it was particularly challenging. The old stones from the collapsed wall had to be dug out from under soil and undergrowth as they had gradually disappeared from sight over the years. We also erected the wooden gate and kissing gate there, one of our first jobs as a group.
The ride between the bus terminus and these gates is also regularly maintained with branches cut back to ensure the ride remains wide and open, not only for access but also to allow the light to filter down for the benefit of the flora and fauna. There is nothing better than seeing bees and butterflies enjoying the sun along this ride. We are also creating a new wild flower meadow area in front of the picnic tables at that end of the wood. It is well worth a visit in the summer but please bear in mind the tiny meadow is “work in progress” following hours of digging, weeding, scarifying and seeding.
Just near to the ride we have also created our first pond. This was no sooner mentioned as an idea to the Council than they agreed to the work being carried out. A digger was brought in at short notice and our group did the necessary clearance work to make it all a huge success. With a small amount of planting around the edge, the pond looks very healthy now and pleasingly it survived the hot summer last year; it did not dry out as water filters in from the ground around. More recently we have dug a small pond next to the footpath that leads down from Totley Hall Lane. It is under the lovely large Oak tree, so we had to be careful the roots of the old tree were not damaged and it was also important not to disturb the yellow Irises that grow there. Hopefully these two ponds will increase the diversity of aquatic life in our area and bring pleasure to anyone who wishes to just stand and look.
Our other work has included thinning trees and creating a glade in one part of the wood. These habitat improvements allow in the sunlight and encourage the ground flora to flourish. This should benefit many of our ground nesting birds not to mention the wide variety of invertebrates that exist in our wood. We have certainly noticed the increase in bluebells and wood anemones in these areas as well as the bramble cover. We have also undertaken coppice work where we have cut back trees and shrubs to encourage re-growth and we have created wood and brash piles to provide shelter for small mammals and again suitable habitat for invertebrates; and we have planted a variety of trees in selected areas.
We have also been involved in the clearance of litter and removal of illegal tipping; the taking down of barbed wire fencing; the erection of wooden fencing and the erection of specially made way-marker posts; plus so much more as we near ten years of helping the council manage this lovely woodland. We have occasional site meetings with the council to discuss ideas; and our own Andy Brewster has worked closely with them over the years, creating a management plan for each year, agreeing the work and bringing the FoGW team together each month.
Amongst all this work we have also tried to improve the main footpath through the wood; not an easy task and it has admittedly not proved very successful. However during the early part of last year we had a site meeting with the council to look at the state of the path. Following this meeting we presented the council with an impressive twenty-two page report containing photos and grid references of all the muddy sections along the path. This resulted in the council securing the funding and providing the machinery and manpower to improve the worst parts of the path with a little help from some of our members. Our Ranger, Chris, was even seen using a leaf blower in the autumn to prevent the build-up of leaves that had fallen in certain sections of the path that had been improved.
So we do hope you enjoy Gillfield Wood with all its wildlife, its history and its ancient flora, and if any of you are tempted to join us on one of our Sunday work mornings to help maintain and protect this special piece of woodland, then you will certainly be made very welcome.
Please check our website www.friendsofgillfieldwood.com or contact Andy on firstname.lastname@example.org
See photos below (Please click for an enlarged view and a brief description).
Chris Measures (May 2019)