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Woodland Custodianship

Discussion in 'The Homestead' started by Broch, Aug 17, 2018.

  1. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    There are a number of us that are fortunate enough to own or have responsibility for small woodlands, and, I suspect, even more of us that would aspire to. So based on the conversations in other threads I thought it might be useful to start a thread where we can discuss some of the delights, problems, issues and, hopefully, solutions to being the custodian of woodland from the viewpoint of the owners and the users of woods. After all, the woods were here before we were and will be here long after we've gone; we have a duty to do our best for them :)

    Topics we could discuss (but without limits) could be:

    - bio-diversity analysis and plans
    - invasive species problems
    - experience of and dealing with tree threats (such as ash die-back)
    - camp sanitation
    - camp layout and structure
    - woodland resources and uses at less than full commercial level
    - and, of course, some just plain discussions on the pure pleasure we get from the woods :)
     
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  2. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    I'll kick off by asking what other owners/users have arranged for camp sanitation for a camp that's used frequently?
     
  3. Nomad64

    Nomad64 Full Member

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    Not an issue for us as the modest bit of woodland we have (doing a lot of planting but am unlikely to see the benefits unless I stumble upon the fountain of eternal youth) is close to the house but I can highly recommend composting toilets with a urine separator into a soakaway.
     
    #3 Nomad64, Aug 17, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  4. Laurentius

    Laurentius Native

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    I am guerilla gardening about half an acre of floodplain that has been been abandoned to decades of fly tipping. Goodness knows how much building rubble has been dumped there. To get to good soil you have to dig down beneath it. Bags of domestic rubbish, plastic bottles, scrap iron, you name it, it is there. The Council owns the land but really they have less interest in it than I have and I expect eventually to put a case for adverse possesion, it is just a matter of time. It is all a matter of experiment as to what trees take and what don't and parts of it have been totally overun by the invasive species of Himalayan Balsam and Rosebay Willow Herb. There are trees there that have been choked by brambles and in desperate need of a bit of tree surgery.
     
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  5. Nomad64

    Nomad64 Full Member

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    I’d describe rosebay willow herb as a native pioneer species rather than an invasive but I know what you mean about it taking over. Does a good job attracting pollinators (but then so does the dreaded balsam) and looks a lot better than piles of rubble.
     
  6. Paulm

    Paulm Full Member

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    For sanitation I made a wooden box with loo seat that sits over a large plastic trug with holes in the bottom. That sits on top of a wooden pallet that allows liquids to drain away below. Handful of sawdust after use, paper burned in a metal dog dish alongside.

    Every now and then the trug is emptied into a dustbin with holes in, to finish composting and become inert and then dispersed in the odd brambly corner of the woods.

    Seems to stay pretty clean and smell free and pleasant enough !
     
    #6 Paulm, Aug 18, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  7. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    Sounds like a labour of love Laurentius! Reading of other's trials there appears to be little point in trying to eradicate the Balsam and, as Nomad says, the Willow herb is a good sign of nature taking back control :)
    What trees have you tried? On floodplain alder may do well and I'd expect birch to survive and, a benefit, it grows quite quickly. As most of mine are ash, which may well all die in the next ten to twenty years, I'm allowing anything to grow including sycamore (if I can keep the squirrels of it).
     
  8. Nomad64

    Nomad64 Full Member

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    How are you doing with die back? I’ve got a few (very) mature ash trees, quite a few young trees and loads of self set saplings (always in the wrong place!), some of the younger trees have got dead branches and tops but I’m not sure whether this is just the stress of the dry spell or signs of the dreaded die back.

    I’m planning to get some more trees from the Woodland Trust this year (I planted about 600 last year but the dry weather has culled 10-20%) but have been trying to grow my own from cuttings and seeds. About half the elders I planted have rooted and I’m going to have a go with wayfarer trees (which I don’t have any of), and field maples.

    Any other native species that will work well from cuttings and/or seeds?
     
  9. BJJJ

    BJJJ Native

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    [​IMG]
    I have put a portable cassette type toilet in a tent hidden by conifers. How the little tent will stand up to weathering is undecided. I have strapped and pegged it down well. The toilet will get minimal use and the chemical filled cassette will be emptied as required.
     
    #9 BJJJ, Aug 18, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018
  10. Laurentius

    Laurentius Native

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    Willow mostly, in that I have a plentifull supply of trimmings from my willow hedge that I just have to stick into the ground and grow. Compared to less isolated parts of the plain it has fewer species. I have introduced white poplar, hornbeam, beech, hazel and hawthorn. It's been a bit hit and miss so far. I am definately going to go for birch and alder when I can buy the bare root seedlings. I have two birch trees on my allotment border that are doing fine, and alder grows elsewhere on the other side of the river. It basically divides into two parts, the part that is permanently saturated, and the part where rubble has been dumped making for very poor terrain, to plant a tree I have to dig away the top layer and dig deep to reach the good soil underneath.
     
  11. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    A lot of the self-sown saplings on the south side of the hill have die back but still live and have sprouted new growth from the base. There's no sign in the older trees yet or on the northern side of the hill. The advice now is to leave alone and see what happens - not even to cut and burn; so that's what I'm doing. I suspect you have die back if upper branches of saplings have died unfortunately.

    I understand that Wych Elm is a good tree to grow from seed but I've not tried [ https://treegrowing.tcv.org.uk/grow/tree-recipes/wychelm ]. Oak, of course, and Rowan, Cherry and Hazel will all grow from seed relatively easily. I have a particular fondness for Field Maple (not sure why) but it is a woodland edge plant really.
     
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  12. Laurentius

    Laurentius Native

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    The nylon will be degraded by UV in the long term and will become very fragile. I have used a cheap Decathlon tarp for cover on my allotment and that has no strenght left in it now it was torn to shreds by high winds lately. Toilet tents of that sort do not bear up well in high winds either having used similar when camping in the past.
     
  13. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    I have successfully grown Alder from seed but it is a slow process. It is a lovely wood though so worth having some in the mix. The Birch self seeds quite quickly if the conditions are right (and, to be honest, as a pioneering tree they are quite forgiving of conditions) so I would look out for young seedlings near the mature trees. The truth is, of course, that a lot of our planting will be for future generations but with willow and birch we should see reasonable growth in ten to twenty years :)
     
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  14. slowworm

    slowworm Settler

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    Loo wise, I just dig a hole - if it's good enough for badgers it's good enough for me! (Unlike badgers I site the hole somewhere sensible and out the way, whereas the badgers seem to like a view).

    Alder will grow from cuttings if you can get any. It also seems to be largely left by deer which are a big problem for us. Sourcing tree saplings is the easy part, it the protecting of them once in that's hard or expensive.
     
  15. nitrambur

    nitrambur Settler

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  16. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    In the wilds I totally agree, but I just don't think it's a long-term option for small pieces of woodland being used by a number of people on a frequent basis. After a couple of weekend of half a dozen people using a camp you just wouldn't know where was clean (and safe for the grand kids to play) and not.

    I haven't tried Alder from cuttings; I will now.
     
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  17. Nomad64

    Nomad64 Full Member

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    Thanks (I think :(), for confirming my concerns re dieback, I’ve always liked ash trees and if they disappear, it will leave some big gaps in the countryside.

    I hadn’t heard the revised advice to wait and see and will do so but was planning to do some thinning and substitution anyway to prepare for the worst. I don’t have the good fortune to have ancient or even mature woodland - I have just inherited planting schemes undertaken by a succession of POs which involved IMHO too many straight lines and too many non-indigenous species.

    I’ll have a look at wych elm - not a tree I’m familiar with.

    Yesterday I potted up a load of cuttings of wayfarer trees, guelder rose, elders and collected some hazelnuts and field maple seeds. I’ll pot some and just stick some in hedgerows.

    Although my woodland rehabilitation/creation efforts are unlikely to amount to much in my lifetime, I am hoping to make a visible difference to some neglected, ancient hazel, hawthorn and blackthorn hedgerows and establish some new ones. :)
     
  18. slowworm

    slowworm Settler

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    Mine isn't that wild although isn't used by many people at all, so not a problem.

    I do wonder if human waste is any worse than, say, dog waste, and some public woodlands and covered in dog mess.
     
  19. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    I have built a 'tree bog' which is a type of composting loo that can handle both solid and liquid waste and, theoretically, should never need maintenance. But I am fortunate in that there is no public access to the wood and it's not visible from any public land so a small structure is feasible.
     
  20. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    Do any of you extract wood for any purpose?

    Up to now all I've done is use windblown for firewood and, of course, the odd stick from hazel. But I'd like to make better use of some of the timber. We get a number of windblown trees down each year (mainly ash) and it seems a shame to just burn it. The problem is the local mill wants it in longer than 6 foot sections and I have no way of dealing with anything that large (the wood is on steep ground with tracks zig-zagging through it). So, I've just bought myself a cheap (sub £100) chainsaw mill to attempt to get some planks out of a few of the trunks.

    Any experience of using them? any tips?
     

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