Raincliffe Woods and Forge Valley Action Group
Meeting 5th March 2013
Present: Ron Baxter (chair), Elaine Clark (scribe), Helen Percival (SBC), Alan Tomlinson (SBC), Andy Plant, Peter Everitt, Tony Auckland
Apologies: Judy Finnigan, David Balfour
Matters Arising From Last Meeting
There has been a delay in obtaining a bank account. NatWest said the group could have a bank account but have failed to set it up in the time that they said they would. Ron has had great difficulty in getting anywhere with NatWest and so in the meantime is going to be using Scarborough Conservation Volunteers Group bank account. There was concern over losing funding coming to the group if there was no account to put it into. Hopefully money from Natural England for the flower survey will be given before the end of this financial year.
Legal Position Re Bikes in the Woods
Alan Tomlinson spoke to the states department re concerns about tracks being made and ramps being built for mountain bike use. The bottom line is that we cannot stop or discourage bikers. As the group did not want to be liable for any injuries bikers might incur in the woods it was decided the not to provide support for a group for young people mountain biking.
Alan said that wood timber produced can be used but SBC cannot give permission for the sale of it. SBC supports the group doing thinning projects and the wood from thinning operations is not needed so the group can have it.
Peter said that the group needed confirmation of this as he did not want any individuals getting into trouble for taking wood. Alan said he would get something in writing and again said if the group turns wood into charcoal it is up to the group what to use it for.
The Bronze Age Path
Work needs finishing. Ron suggested a weekend. AT said it needed doing soon as birds are beginning to nest. It was decided to leave this project till September when it would be more ideal to do it.
The flower survey should go ahead. Lots of interest expressed in this and it is hoped that training in flower identification could be provided by Tom Normandale and Natural England should provide information to support the survey being carried out. Dates are yet to be confirmed. Ron said he would contact Faron at Natural England and do this.
A makeshift kiln/retort has been made and is being experimented with. A lot of work went into building the system which emulates a retort for drying out the moisture in wood to make it better for firewood. Peter described how they had difficulty getting it going but got a lot of heat in the end. PE suggested a few inches of gravel at the bottom of the kiln might help as the wood ended up looking a bit burnt. AT said a grill would work better than gravel – an old shopping trolley would work – and if the pit was a bit deeper – AT also felt the retort would work better if it was totally full. PE commented on how the wood dried was quite charred but surprisingly not mucky and not a lot of the black ‘char’ came off. PE said he liked the unusual smell of creosote it gave off but that his wife did not! AT described how the benefit of retort dried wood was that it would not take on moisture even if left out for a year. It was agreed that there was definitely potential there and another idea discussed was to have the fire at the front, not underneath. Everyone had ideas and seemed keen to experiment further and build a successful retort.
Alan has a meeting set up for initial talks with The Wildlife Trust re an asset transfer. The Woodlands Trust and Your Woods may also be other interested parties. The idea is for The Wildlife Trust to have a nature reserve in Raincliffe Woods. AT suggested that the group get properly constituted and also arranges to meet up with and talk with The Wildlife Trust. AT discussed how it is foreseeable that SBC will no longer manage Raincliffe Woods and it would be much preferred if a group like The Wildlife Trust took over rather than a business group.
Tony suggested The National Park and that perhaps they might also be interested. AT said that the council would welcome any alternatives suggested for the future of Raincliffe Woods which is in keeping with the woods remaining open to the public as an area of natural beauty, as opposed to any re-development of the area including for any type of business ventures or social enterprise schemes.
AT will report back re his meeting with The Wildlife Trust and what future involvement the group could have. The Wildlife Trust needs members and it likes community involvement and an active group would make a good partnership with them.
Ideas for Events
Holding a Spring/Summer fair was discussed. It was agreed that something on the scale of the previous Secret Woods events was not desirable as car parking is an issue. A low-key small event would be ideal and would require people willing to give their time and expertise for free. People sought such as dancers, musicians, storytellers, actors etc. Would groups like Create and Outreach be willing to put performances on for free or would they require funding?
Monthly events were suggested. Offering something different every month, and at the same time e.g. the first Sunday of every month. Small events it was agreed would be a good idea, something to build upon and to establish things happening in the woods. A lot of ideas were discussed including acoustic music, singing, dancing, storytelling, green wood training, willow weaving, fungi foraging, dawn chorus, bat and moth night, wild flower walks, trail walks, geology talks, Christmas decoration making, painting, sculpture, photography, bug collecting, shelter making, treasure hunts, teddy bear’s picnic, re-enactments, Morris dancing, kayleigh bands…
It was noted that public liability insurance would be required for events being held and that children attending must always be accompanied by an adult. When advertising events it will be important to state the suitability for certain age groups etc.
A rough draft for suggested monthly events was drawn up:
April – Frogs and Toads Crossing at Throxenby Mere
May – Dawn Chorus
June – A Teddy Bear’s Picnic/ Storytelling
July – Flower Walks
August – Bug Hunting/Shelter Building Bat Night
September – Fungi Foraging
October – Seed Collecting/ Tall tales about Trees/Bat and Moth Night
November –/Making Xmas Decorations
December – Making Xmas Decorations
Mixed response re a sculpture trail. Would need to find willing artists, who wanted to create pieces from natural found objects, such as stone or wood found in the woods. The group would need to devise a criteria for the artist to work to and stress that a high standard of work was required for permanent sculptures.
Discussed the glade created around the kiln/retort made and how it was thought that would be a good idea to create some more glades – removing the scrub from areas like around the oak trees – to create places where people could stop and sit to take things in. Log seats and roundels are perfect for picnic areas.
Any Other Business
Working with the Scarborough Conservation Group on a Wednesday – it was felt that the group should try and function as a separate unit and allow the Conservation Volunteers to get on with their work. The group could work weekends and it was felt that this may encourage more people to get involved who are not free during the week. It was also discussed how families could get involved with projects like litter picking as it would be good to combine volunteer activities with something that is educational.
Andy is working on it and is to liaise with Ron.
Re the group’s identity/profile: It was suggested that the group think of a new name; a shorter more catchy one. The only acronym appeared to be SWAG: Scarborough Woodlands Action Group? This is yet to be decided as SWAG may not give a positive image as one meaning of the word is a thief’s booty (On further research it was discovered that another meaning for SWAG is a valley or low point in the land – so it may not be as inappropriate after all!).
PE discussed mapping areas out. Helen said there was no need to do it as a grounds and maintenance map already existed. The map is segmented and Helen has a copy. PE discussed how he would be very much interested in collaborating to create a more detailed map that showed what wildlife, fauna, fungus and flowers etc. grew in different areas. This would be very useful in terms of managing areas.
Next meeting TBC.