On the 13th July members of Heartwood and volunteers from the Donisthorpe Woodland Park team constructed the nest boxes and bat boxes forming part of the grant submissions for the coming season. Heartwood has 20 nest boxes and 15 Bat boxes to position in Willesley wood, it is planned that as many members as possible meet up on the 26th August at 09:00 to put the boxes up on site.

Heartwood’s training schedule is rapidly becoming as full as its felling season. The latest event, part of a summer season of courses designed to broaden the group’s expertise and skills base, was a day-long course with Dr. Charles Lane, Consultant Plant Pathologist with FERA and lead organiser in the EU Life-Funded citizen science project ObservaTree.

The tree health course began at the YHA in Moira where attendees were introduced to the basics of tree health and its impacts upon woodland environments. The group were taught how to recognise the signs and symptoms of trees under stress and to evaluate trees in context to determine whether disease was likely to be present or whether other stresses such as compaction, spray drift or mechanical damage were the cause of ill health.

A Woodland Management Course organised by Heartwood over two consecutive Wednesdays in June was well attended by members. The course, led by Jim Waterson of Harper Adams University, began with lessons on the planning and design of new woodland and took the group through to an overview of silvicultural systems.

Fifteen Heartwood members attended the course which was a mix of classroom based learning combined with time in the woods discussing real-life management options. Themes included the identification and management of principal vertebrate pests, an introduction to coppice, high forest and wood pasture management and an introduction to management tools such as MyForest.

Willesley Wood

Members of Heartwood Community Woodfuel Group met on Wednesday 21 June for an out-of-felling-season walk in Willesley Wood near Ashby. The walk was guided by Woodland Trust volunteer and warden, Ian Retson, who has been involved with the wood since its inception.

The committee is pushing forward on a number of areas vital to the development of the group. We are virtually half way through the funding period originally set-out in the Black to Green project so we are now moving into the phase where we are setting the initial constitution, opening the bank account and seeking independent insurance. This will enable us to run our own sessions without the need for Ben or Chris in attendance, a significant milestone if we are to improve our flexibility to meet new challenges and potential demands of private woodland owners. We already have a couple of potential other woodlands which once we have independence we can consider and share with the wider group. Over the early part of 2017 we expect the group to develop further and will keep the membership engaged through this exciting period.