Woodland Update 23rd November (provided by Ross Collins, Smiths Gore)

Phytophthora and Clearance of Feral Rhododendrons
At the time of writing Crinnis Wood remains under restriction due to the Eradication Notice that the Food and Environment Research Agency served on CWMCL. This requires all of the feral Rhododendron and other susceptible plants within the woodland area to be destroyed and incinerated. To try and prevent the woodland from being restricted further and reclassified as a Containment Site, and to avoid spreading Phytophthora, notices have been erecting asking all parties not engaged in essential works to keep out of the woodland until the restrictions are lifted.

Paul Wallace of Woodsmiths is continuing with the work to clear the feral Rhododendrons from Crinnis Wood. This work is being done under the contract that Paul Wallace has with CWMCL, which was arranged prior to Smiths Gore taking on the role of providing Company Secretary services and management advice. The contract is 80% funded by the Forestry Commission based on their own cost estimates, but Paul Wallace undertook to carry out the project and forego the 20% balance that would otherwise have been due from householders via an increased service charge. The contract involves clearing and burning the feral Rhododendrons in year one, with follow up work in years two and three to spray any re-growth of feral Rhododendron. The work is being carried out under the watches of Nicholla Ingram of FERA who is the Phytophthora Project Officer.

We are hopeful that the initial clearance work and burning will be completed soon and Paul is making good progress under difficult conditions.

Railway Screening
It was agreed at the AGM that some CWMCL funds would be allocated for a contribution towards the costs of planting screening behind those properties worst affected by the Rhododendron clearance. This concerns those properties closest to the railway line where removal of Rhododendron from the woodland may leave households with no screening. This contribution will be towards the cost of planting screening in the woodland area outside of any private gardens. Peter Fitzgerald has very kindly taken on the voluntary role of walking the woodland in consultation with Nicholla Ingram to monitor conditions on behalf of CWMCL and he will now be speaking to householders to firm up the proposals for the screening.

Restoration and Replanting
With the ongoing restrictions, notices, clearing and burning it is important to keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to rid the woodland of this plant disease so that the woodland can be restored and replanted. As the Rhododendrons are removed we can already see young trees that were previously being smothered by them but which will now be able to thrive and bring “new blood” into the woodland, and we look forward to seeing which dormant ground species emerge in the spring.

In consultation with Garin Linnington, the new Forestry Commission Officer for Cornwall, we intend to apply for funding towards the costs of replanting and restoring the woodland with native broadleaf species. Funding is provided through English Woodland Grant Schemes which last five years. Before we can apply for this funding we will need to prepare a 20 year Woodland Management Plan approved by the Forestry Commission to show the intentions for the planting, restoration and ongoing management of the woodland over that time. Following our initial consultations with Garin, the next stage towards achieving this was to make an application for funding to cover the costs of producing the 20 year Management Plan. This has been done and the application was submitted before the AGM in September 2012. We are now awaiting confirmation that the Forestry Commission will pay for the Management Plan to be drawn up. Once we have confirmation of this, the Management Plan will be prepared and submitted to the Forestry Commission for their approval. Only when we have that approval can we make the subsequent application for the funding towards the costs of replanting new trees.

The Forestry Commission have confirmed that they are processing our initial application and Garin has said that he will put forward his support for the project. However the Forestry Commission are extremely busy dealing with Phytophthora across the South West and so they have given us prior warning that it will take longer than usual to process the application, and they have also said that due to their funding rules we should not start work on the Management Plan until they have confirmed approval for the funding.

As discussed at the AGM, Autumn (November onwards) is the best time of year to plant trees. The tree-planting season lasts until the end of March but planting should be avoided when the ground is very cold, or very dry and certainly when temperatures begin to rise. I would therefore hope that planting can begin from November 2013.