Our February volunteer day actually took place in early March thanks to storm Eunice; and in postponing we traded 60 mph winds for a radiant late winter day. The turnout was good despite the change of dates, and we got tons of work done.
Focus shifted this time from the forest campsite to the scots pine plantation that borders the heathland by the woodland pavilion site. It was in serious need of thinning as many trees were growing too close, crowding each other; and with plans underway for the woodland pavilion we wanted to carry this out before any building begins.
We had a felling axe and a gorgeous crosscut saw available, and many volunteers took the chance to learn how to fell a tree safely with these hand tools. Not only it is good exercise, much quieter and better for the environment than using a chainsaw, but also allowed us to be more present and mindful of each tree’s life force and the impact we were having in the forest overall. We felled with consideration and respect for each tree, favouring species such as silver birch, sweet chestnut, holly and douglas fir whenever possible to increase biodiversity; and ensuring a range of trees of different ages were left to improve resiliency against high winds. The newly available light will not only benefit the trees but also the heather bordering the woodland, and understory shrubs like bilberry.
After a delicious lunch of rice and vegetable aash with puy lentils, and a rest and chat together around the fire, we continued thinning, chopping and brashing into the afternoon.
The larger douglas fir we collected will be used to build structures in the future. Pine is not durable enough as an outdoors building material, so this was chopped into sections, and we built a fence with the logs. These will be seasoned and ready to be used as firewood in our woodland pavilion in around two years. Some of the longer branches will be used to make dens at forest school, and the remainder was piled onto a bonfire to be burnt at a later date.
After a day of hard work some of us stayed on to enjoy a hot drink and each others’ company. Natural voice leader Celyn Hind was among our volunteers for the day, and we finished the day in good spirits singing songs around the fire.