Confor at Fingle Woods

The National Trust and the Woodland Trust hosted a meeting yesterday at Fingle Woods for Confor. To quote their website “Confor: promoting forestry and wood is a membership organisation that promotes sustainable forestry and low-carbon businesses. Confor represents and supports members by helping build the market for wood and forest products, creating a supportive policy environment, and helping members to become more competitive and successful.

An important element of our partnership at Fingle Woods is to engage with the forestry industry by demonstrating best practice in the restoration of ancient woodlands. By hosting the visit yesterday we were able to show members of Confor what we were up to. Whilst we share much common we ground we don’t always see eye to eye on woodland management matters. It struck me that some of these problems occur because we don’t spend enough time talking to each other to find out what it actually happening on the ground. All too often we rely on prejudices and public relations spin. Yesterday we were able to engage in productive and detailed dialogue. I think and I hope that most members of Confor went away pleasantly surprised about our plans and actions at Fingle Wood.

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The members of Confor standing high above the Teign Valley overlooking Fingle Woods – Dave Rickwood the site Manager for the Woodland Trust is standing in the middle (grey trousers) and Mick Jones our Lead Ranger in the Valley is at the back in a hat and red jacket.

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We visited an area where a forest harvester was at work removing Japanese larch that had been infected by the fungus-like pathogen  Phytophthora ramorum. Dave Rickwood has produced a detail blog here on this work.

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This little fenced off area is a charcoal platform – an area where hundreds of years ago oak coppice was burnt to produce charcoal – this is an important archaeological feature (there are over 400 in the woods) and we need to protect them during the forestry works.

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This is Japanese larch – a deciduous conifer – you can see the larch needles turning yellow before they drop

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Here is a larch cone – all the larch needs to be removed from this area as P. ramorum is highly contagious and will infect other trees on the site and down the valley unless it is removed. P. ramorum has caused major problems for the National Trust in its formal gardens where it has infected some our our prize collections of plants – rhododendrons have been severely affected  – see here for more details.

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All in all a good day which also included discussion around deer management and the impact on woodlands caused by grey squirrels.

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