A Chairs View

a personal account


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Good morning campers and tree huggers. For the last two weeks the ConVols have been working on the annual task of Himalayan balsam removal.

Hymilayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)  is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales therefore, it is also an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow these species in the wild.

H.B is Britains largest annual plant growing to over  two and half meters and introduced  to the UK in 1839. Travelling both up and down stream H.B quickly dominates the riverbanks forcing other less aggressive species out,this in turn dramatically reduces the biodiversity of the river banks.

New Volunteers are often reluctant to work on this task as what they are seeing is a bonny relative of the Busy Lizzie plant and it is an attractive plant, thats why it was brought here all those years ago but it has to go. Anyone that has witnessed the way that H.B. colonise our river banks,will in a short time realise  that H.B. poses a major threat to our river and beck sides, with what can be catastrophic results to the indigenous flora/fauna.

If you would like to know more about this subject the net is full of info.R.H.S    

Rhododendron   Rhododendron ponticum (L.)pulling  is a very similar task to H.B. a stunningly beautiful plant grown all over the world, that has to go. Although it possesses attractive flowers R. ponticum has few attributes that offset the negative impact it can have on an invaded site.  It has been shown to reduce the numbers of earthworms, birds and plants and regenerative capacity of a site, leading to a reduction in the biodiversity of the area. Physical access to a site can be reduced by the density and size of mature bushes, and management costs then rise as the bushes need to be treated prior to other activities being carried out. Established bushes then act as a seed source for further invasions in adjacent areas, eradicating ground cover plants and interfering with the process of natural regeneration of trees.

The ConVols have contracted with the Woodland trust to continue with Rhododendron pulling in Raincliffe Woods and over the coming year we hope to make some dramatic improvement in the amount of this unwanted plant.


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A two way split

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Hello good people ,Wow what a week of ups and downs. The ConVols had a rare split task this week, first to collect brash and chip it at Millennium wood and then bring it to the meadow for our gate . While 3 of us went onto the Raincliffe meadow to prepare the ground helping Pete Wilson of Thorne Park farm and his big red tractor.

Unfortunately problems with the chipper stopped work on the gate but at least its ready. While we were waiting for the other volunteers to join us in Raincliffe we decided to have a look at the new wetland ,what a surprise the lower three scrapes were almost empty ,so we set about clearing its feeder stream .As the other volunteers joined us we were able to clear more of the stream, low and behold two of us found an old Belfast sink, that had been put in by a previous owner to feed his cattle . Sadly I dont think that will be enough, the banks that we created are behaving like large radiators pulling water out of the ponds as it evaporates out of the bank. We also have a problem with dogs jumping in and pushing their paws through the clay lining and I suppose the Deer will do the same. Solutions I here you shouting well its going to be a bit of fun ,first we will change the way the pond fill each other and use angled pipe to supply the water to the lower ponds , puddle the clay with spades and use a form of pond liner take a breath oh and all the rest of tree planting, training and our weekly tasks .I feel some “ special events “comming up soon .Have a good week


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A task that is in two halves

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Hello good people of the Sun. Next week we are working on a strange and unusual task .CHIPPING COOL. .We are splitting the dy in two the first half will be in Millennium Wood then on to the Meadow for the afternoon. We are chipping already felled timber and using the chips to dry out the West gate in the Meadow. This is our busiest time of year and we need Volunteers out to help us ,so if you can come please come along WE NEED YOU

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All Bow the sun is out

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Good Morrow people of the Sun, I can confirm that the big bright thing in the sky is indeed the fabled Sun ,the gods must be very happy this morning. This week the ConVols Have been very busy not just in the field so to speak but filling application forms in, ordering, sorting out training, buying stuff and getting ready for our beautiful halcyon Summer. Thinking of summer lets start planning our summer family days. What do you think we should have? BBQ, Bug Hunt, let us know and we will see what can be done. Thank goodness its stopped raining for a day maybe the gate will start to dry out and green up, at the moment it looks a right mess, part of the problem (a big part) is galloping horses .the ConVols love to see people cantering/galloping across the meadow but there comes a point when the rider and horse want to slow down, thats when the huge mess gets much worse. A slowing horse and rider make hellish divots and the ride gets covered in 3/4/6 in holes .

I know its a pain and if it was me on the horse I would want to give the horse its head but for aesthetic and safety grounds can you please walk or trot. We dont want people put off coming to the Meadow just because its ankle deep in mud.

Good news on the Wetland project some plants have come from the Wild flower shop http://www.wildflowershop.co.uk/index.html I will be going up today to plant them up ,i will concentrate on the scrape nearest the fire pit for planting. When our #bagsofhelp funding comes through we will plant up the other scrapes .

As you will be able to see the Vols have been thinning trees in the arboretum plot again this depends on #bagsofhelp funding but as soon as we can we will be planting new species. The way we decided to do it is to plant heavy standard trees with whips planted round. This will give an immediate variety in canopy hight and in the future look like the tree has self seeded.

The Daffs we planted are all out and I hope to post some photos today.

Coming soon we will be planting willow round the Bird hide and planting a few hundred mixed wild flowers.

Have a good week


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International Womans Day #bagsofhelp

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The 8th of March International Womans Day

We celebrated this by holding a Chainsaw training event on the Meadow all week. Sammie and Marie were joined by Roger and Dave in bringing our skill level up to date. As you will perhaps know if your a member of a group people come and go, some members only come out in good weather others have favourite tasks and come out for them only, some thank goodness get work and move on. Its the latter this time for the ConVols, two of our membership took the training and later in the year managed to find work (fantastic) We are hoping to offer regular training in woodland/conservation skills over the coming months and years, coming next is dry stone walling in the spring. Please let me know baxterron56@hotmail.co.uk if you are wanting a place as numbers are limited.

Next week we will be in the Meadow thinning the Cheery plot, raking the brush up and preparing the path for chipping. We will use the brash in the cherry plot on the east gate and brash from the arboretum plot for the west. I will also be getting some new trees for small cherry plot. WE must not forget the hide in the next few days we will be planting around the hide with willow, hopefully this will make it a little less conspicuous. Then it will be time to plant out the few thousand wild flowers we have so look out for the coming announcements.

In the next few weeks we will also be creating a Wet flush with the help of a local farmer ( Pete Wilson ) but alas we need the rest of the Meadow to dry out so we can get the tractor up there. Keep an eye out for announcements as this will probably be a weekend task.

The volunteers are desperately looking for funding to buy a 4×4 the type we need is a good old fashioned work horse, the one that meets our need is not the cheapest of options but it is the most appropriate for our varied needs a Discovery commercial

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A full week #bagsofhelp

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Its been a busy week for the ConVols, working on the beautiful south cliff gardens, cutting back overgrown trees and bushes. We were meant to be collaborating with a local friends group but for some reason they decided not to come out and help, someone came and took some photos at the end but no one helping.

It was a bit of a strange task to work on, we had been asked if we could cut down some small trees and bushes to improve a path. At first the Vols dragged the brash up to the road to fill a skip, when it got full we used a tractor to push it all down. In the meantime we pulled all the brash up onto the grass. Then we discovered the tractor had a grab so we pulled it all down onto the path too be picked up and taken away. The volunteers were not at all impressed by the Council garden employees standing around watching a group of (in some cases) elderly Volunteers struggle.

We shall certainly have to have a task review and more site inspections to help eliminate these things happening again.

Friday was another kettle of fish all together and I want to thank every one that came and supported us with Capt. Peter Cocker’s memorial. Late Thursday having had a full day and was sat relaxing for the evening a harbinger of doom came on the TV and told every one that the next day was going to be rubbish. Rain,hail,snow and wind the man said in a far too cheery tone. He was having some fun he had to be! Didn’t he know we had a git big tree to put in and have a memorial service Memo to self get the Gazebo. So the day dawns and the forecast was right I open the curtains to a snow storm and I start to panic about just getting there never mind if anyone was coming at half two. The memorial sign had been delivered the day before with relief all round so we were set to get wet. I drove to Daves house to pick him up and then to the council depot to pick up our gear and get the plaque made into a sign, thank you SBC. Dave and I made our way up to the Meadow and as soon as we started the long of road clime of over a mile we knew it would be a miracle if we got there, the track was like an ice rink but we made thanks to a marvellous Kia Soul . I managed to get within a hundred feet of the Meadow gates and Dave and we unloaded the car of gazebo and tools. A kind person from SBC had delivered the tree to the gate. David carried the gazebo and I got the tools and off we went . Gazebo up, hole dug and with Sammie’s help we got the Heavy standard Hornbeam over all the mud. 2.30 came and we remembered Peter a lovely man with out whom the ConVols owe a huge debt of gratitude. After the ceremony I showed Mrs Cocker around the beautiful blue bell glade that the ConVols are naming after Capt.Pete. Below are some pics of the memorial and with Capt.Peters good friend another Capt. Peter

We all got wet but poor dave looked a bit like a drowned rat when we were finished mind you having to push the land rover out did not help

Its chain saw training this week starting at Manor road Depot then for the rest of the week on the meadow giving our Arboretum plot a good thinning. On Wed those Vols that are not training are working at Millennium woods cutting back all the overgrown brush.

Lets be safe out there.

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More grass back

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Thank you all for coming out and giving an extra day on the Meadow. This large plot of bramble was just a small plot a few years ago but has gradually expanded taking out two paths. We will rake this off and ready it to be reintegrated into the flower meadow as a wet flush

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