12 - Outdoors

Friends of Hagg Wood

Spring in Hagg Wood brings with it the flourishing of numerous wild flowers, including wood anemones, celandines,  primroses and bluebells, which our regular conservation working parties have helped to thrive. Whether the beauties of Hagg Wood can be easily enjoyed by everyone in future will depend now in part on the outcome of the current consultation period for the City of York Council’s recent Definitive Map Modification Orders to recognise the claimed access routes into Hagg Wood from Intake Lane as public footpaths. The consultation period lasts until 17 April, after which the nature of any objections and their source will be made public. If there are any objections, the process of restoring access to the Community Woodland from Intake Lane may well take considerably longer than otherwise. Those making objections therefore bear a heavy responsibility, that will impact on the ability of many local people, both young and old and many in between, to enjoy this important local amenity in the coming months without considerable inconvenience. The footpath claims currently being processed are those based upon pre-1997 use, based on when the claims were first submitted. If you have additional evidence that you used either the Triangular Field path or the Forestry Track access path before 1997 as a public path, please get in touch via the website https://haggwood.wordpress.com/contact/ or c/o FHW, 5 Church Lane, Dunnington, YO19 5PT.  

The clearing of areas for Spring flowers, and reducing the overgrowth is allowing more daylight to reach the woodland floor to the benefit of flowers and birds which are starting to nest.   Will there be any new sightings this year? 

Wednesday 27 May. Cath Bashford will give an illustrated presentation on the re-introduction of Eurasian Beavers at Cropton Forest. This will be preceded by our AGM. at 8pm in the Reading Room. 

Working parties scheduled for Thursday 16 April & Friday 14 May.  Meet at 9.45am at the children’s play park.  

Our Wildlife Community - Give Peat a Chance

Are you a gardener? Would you like to help fight the Climate Crisis and the Ecological Emergency? Pledge to go peat-free!

Peat forms when plants are trapped in waterlogged land where they become part-decayed and part-preserved. The carbon that the plants captured from the air when they were living is trapped in the peat. Apparently “peat is the largest and most efficient land-based store of carbon” (Garden Organic): peatlands cover about 3% of the Earth’s land surface but their carbon-storage is at least twice that of our planet’s forests! (Yorkshire Peat Partnership) If peatlands are looked after they can store carbon for thousands of years. So a healthy peatland is a carbon-storing superhero and helps us to fight the Climate Crisis. 

Unfortunately more than 94% of UK peat bogs have been damaged or destroyed (The Wildlife Trusts) and are releasing huge amounts of carbon back into the air! Also, at this time of Ecological Emergency, those extracted and degraded peatlands are now failing to continue to provide homes for special plants (such as insect-eating sundew) and animals (e.g. curlews, skylarks). There are other impacts too, as healthy peatlands can improve water quality and help prevent flooding. Since peat bogs are ancient landscapes - recovery can take hundreds, or even thousands, of years!

There is no quick-fix for the peatland we’ve already damaged but we can stop further damage. The Committee on Climate Change has called for a ban on the sale of peat-based compost and we can choose what we buy in the meantime. Many gardeners (e.g. Monty Don) are happy with peat-free products and they are becoming easier to find too (e.g. see Dean’s Garden Centre advert). The more we ask for peat-free options, the more stores will stock them and the more the prices will come down. Buying compost labeled peat-free is a great start but ask for plants grown peat-free too – a list of nurseries is here https://dogwooddays.net/2019/09/18/save-our-rainforests-the-peat-free-nurseries-list/.

So please use your purchasing power to preserve our peat!

Alex & Mum 

My favourite tree

Trees predate Homo Sapiens by several thousand years, and we share 20% of their DNA, so it’s no surprise that our time spent together has bred a whole range of deep and affective relationships.

Religious ceremonies, holy sites, legends, heroes such as Robin Hood and Gruffalo, and a string of memories of childhood experiences such as scrumping, climbing (and falling out of) trees, and den-making, give trees a prominent place in our psyche.

Most people have a favourite tree – either a species such as the willow, or a specific tree such as one you used to see out of your bedroom window.

Let us know which is your favourite. The first example we have is one of the huge, gnarled old Sweet Chestnuts (castanea sativa) on the East side of the Yorkshire Arboretum, Castle Howard. This is the chosen tree of Chris Utley, Holtby, who says:

Every time I see this group of Sweet Chestnuts they fill me with wonder and emotion. We don’t know how long they have been standing there – maybe up to 700 or 1000 years, which would make them older than William the Conqueror. I think of all the people who have touched them and cared about them like me. What a legacy!

Send your choice, preferably with a photo and a brief reminiscence, to derekutley30@gmail.com.