Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Seeing the wood for the trees
This map is taken from a development proposal drawn up on behalf of the Thorpe & Felthorpe Trust in 2001 (those who attended the T&FT's meetings in June will recall them stating that they had never considered any development in the woods until this year). The map shows the woodland types identified within the site boundaries. We have changed the colour-coding to make the various categories of woodland easier to distinguish (the original map was hand-coloured in very similar shades of green), but the map information is otherwise absolutely identical to the original.
The dark green indicates conifer plantation: those who attended the June meetings will recall the Trustees repeatedly stating that the woods were almost entirely conifer plantations, planted after the war. This map shows that, as far back as 2001, the T&FT were in possession of clear graphic evidence - commissioned by themselves - to show that only a relatively small proportion of the woodlands could be described in this way.
A lot has changed since 2001. The second map has been revised by us to show the changes. In Racecourse Plantation a large block of woodland mainly to the east of the main north-south ride, was cleared of conifers several years ago and is now 100% broadleaved woodland, consisting of a mix of regrowth from stumps & roots, mature broadleaves that were not felled, and young natural regeneration. The brown area, indicating 'disturbed ground' must have been exaggerated as it is now mainly covered by woodland. In Belmore Plantation, the block shown as coniferous towards the north has shrunk by nearly half since 2001, and is now a mix of broadleaved natural regen and wilflower-rich glade.
It is hard to imagine how the T&FT could have overlooked these facts prior to their 'charette' meetings. They own the woods after all, and went to great lengths to tell everyone how much trouble and money they have spent 'managing' them. Now that we've gone to the trouble of making their own map comprehensible and publishing it for all to see, perhaps they'll rush to apologise publicly for leading the people of Thorpe astray? It would be nice if they would.
However, in case they don't, and in the interests of maximum factual accuracy, we are hoping to carry out an aerial photography flight in January or February. When all the deciduous trees are completely leafless, the true extent of the coniferous component of the woods will be very clear to see (larch - a deciduous conifer - is not present in significant numbers, so the aerial photos will give a reliable and up-to-date picture).
We will, of course, publish our aerial photos on the blog.