The Lower Path, running from Hanley tennis club alongside the cricket pitches, was very muddy and partially flooded during the winter, but this has now been drained and renovated with a fresh covering of woodchips. Please try to keep to the paths and avoid trampling through the undergrowth as this is damaging the ecosystem. We need to let ivy and shrubs grow back now that spring is here.
Workdays in 2021
Regular workdays have now resumed on the third Sunday of each month. See home page for dates. For the time being we will be asking volunteers not to share tools, to wear gloves and to stay socially distanced. Masks are not compulsory outdoors. Please come along if you are able to help.
New CREOS Copse
You may have noticed some new fencing around the muddy corner of the school playing field. This is temporary, and is to protect recent renovation of this area by CREOS. We obtained a grant from CPRE (the Campaign to Protect Rural England) in order to create a hedgerow alongside the path into the field, and behind this hedge we have planted a small coppice of low-growing trees and shrubs to attract more wildlife. The fencing will be removed once the new plants have become firmly established.
Owing to the Coronavirus pandemic the 2020 AGM had to be cancelled. We are planning to hold the 2021 AGM in May as an online meeting. Details to follow soon.
The Boundary Oak Walk
We are pleased to say that renovation work on the path is now complete (see before and after pics). The path has been widened and given new log edges; a drainage ditch has been dug alongside the path, leading to two underground drainage pipes which will take all future rainfall away from the surface of the path; and a rubble and hard-core base has been laid along the path with hoggin for the surface.
Many thanks to the volunteers, including Good Gym, who carried out the work, and thanks also to the many people who contributed financially towards this successful project.
We are regularly helped on our workdays by volunteers from Good Gym. They are a community of runners who combine getting fit with doing good. They stop off on runs to do physical tasks for community organisations, such as CREOS, and we are very pleased to have their support.
Here are two accounts of recent CREOS workdays from the Good Gym website:
CREOS Management Plan
The CREOS Management Plan was unveiled at a presentation by the Director of Conservation at London Wildlife Trust, Mathew Frith, and their Conservation Ecologist, Mike Waller, at a well-attended meeting at the Hanley Tennis Club in November 2018.
The plan contains an easy to use calendar of conservation and management activities, most of which we can all get involved with, some of which will require professional tree work and all of which will improve biodiversity across CREOS. Here's some background to the plan:
What’s the difference between an ancient and a secondary woodland? Well, if you were to enter CREOS from Queens Wood via the Woodland Walk the answer to that question is – about a metre, but in biodiversity terms the difference is vast.
The ancient oak and hornbeam of Queens Wood houses great biodiversity because it is structurally varied with trees of all ages making lots of different habitats for a huge variety of species. Large breaks in the mature oak canopy encourage a rich understory and ground flora, which in turn forms a nursery area for the mature trees of tomorrow. Contrast this to the secondary woodland of CREOS – woodland that has developed on previously cleared ground – here we have a closed out canopy formed by evenly-aged trees that are, in places, very densely packed and tall because they have shot up together competing for sunlight, and beneath them, in the virtual perma-shade – very little variety.
So what’s the big deal? Secondary woodland is what we have and it’ll be ancient woodland eventually – right? No, unfortunately, not. Often secondary woodland fails. Trees of uniform age can all die off or get blown over together leaving a huge clearing which – you’ve guessed it, gradually becomes colonised in the exact same way as before. It may surprise you to learn that the major player in the creation of biodiverse ancient woodland has actually been human and animal activities. Back in the day, woodlands were a vital resource which were heavily used for multiple purposes: timber for building and fuel; vegetation and fodder for large herbivores (for fun look up the Auroch or super cow) and grazing animals. Over centuries the
effect of all this disturbance and activity was huge variation. Many woods today, like ours at CREOS, are untouched because the general perception of natural spaces is that they should be left alone. However, managing secondary woodland is actually a way of ensuring the woodland survives and, in a happy coincidence, it also increases biodiversity. Whether it’s careful selective thinning to create significant gaps in the canopy promoting natural regeneration, or coppicing hazel (most usually) on a two to four year cycle to produce fantastic variation, woodland management techniques create mixed woodland with a varied structure and tree age, which positively affects biodiversity surprisingly quickly. As an example, the recent reintroduction of coppicing practices in nearby Coldfall Woods increased the number of ground flora species present from 48 to 156 in just one year.
So, when you hear depressing news about dramatic declines in biodiversity and think ‘well I can’t do anything about that’ – think again! Being a CREOS member, making a donation, or turning up to volunteer on a work day, means more woodland management tasks can be done. Spreading the word about the benefits of woodland management, especially for improving biodiversity in secondary woodland, means that more local people will get to understand that a spot of pruning can bring woodland wildlife flooding in – a very positive thing for us all.