January in the Forest
“What are they going to do about the forest?” asked a friend recently. Momentarily puzzled by the open-ended question, I soon got to the nub of the matter. Once again it was the state of the tracks and paths following timber extraction. The Hitterhill area of the forest wasn’t a pretty sight, especially as the work was done when the ground was very soft after a period of rainy weather. Since then some effort has been put into repair and mud removal: things have improved considerably and we can rely on nature to do the rest.
Still, it’s an interesting question, which led me to think about attitudes to the forest and the management planning exercise currently being undertaken by the Wyre Forest Landscape Partnership (son of Grow With Wyre). For most of us, the forest features in our lives as a place of recreation in whatever form appeals to us, from horse riding to sitting with a coffee in our hands while the kids play on the big wooden hedgehog! We know it’s there, we’re glad it’s there and we expect it always to be there.
Elsewhere, discussions are going on about the form of the new body which will hold the publicly-owned forest in trust for the nation. Here in Wyre, our understanding and evaluation of the forest is being translated into a plan that will decide where and how it will be used and protected in the future. As in the past, trees will be felled, my friend will take her dog for walks, and different interests will have to make allowances for each other. What I hope for, this time, is that the beauty and wildlife of Wyre Forest will take centre stage in a comprehensive approach to decision making which will benefit everyone.
Here at Uncllys Farm we are looking at ways of using more of the oak for quality products: beams for construction, countryside and house furniture and flooring, for example. There could be more opportunities for people to be trained in the skills needed and to start small businesses. If so John Ruskin, whose dream for this part of the forest was that it should be “beautiful, peaceful and fruitful”, would be delighted! (And thankyou to those who have enquired: yes, we are thoroughly enjoying our new mains electricity!)
Happy New Year