Photographs of Thorpe woodlands, their varied habitats, plantlife and wildlife all taken by friends and supporters. most taken between 2010 and 2013

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Wood for the trees

Fresh tracks are being laid and new openings cut in Thorpe woodlands, something I've never actually watched there before and something I've dreaded for the last 4 years as, for that time it had seemed this would be the precursor to housing.  But the giant machinery that can be heard in to the dusk, lights shining down and through the trees, felling, removing and stacking 50+ year old trees like carefully arranged matchsticks is doing something good.
Paying heed to the warning signs and staying well clear while tons of machinery is felling and moving tons of wood, I've followed the path cut through southern Racecourse plantation. many dozens of trees have gone, but gone only from one of the last remaining stands of conifer. 
And what was in places tightly packed rows of pine with little light or life reaching below is now open with well spaced mature conifer retained along with some broadleaved.
A crop of conifer has been removed but the woodland remains and there is no obvious loss to wildlife or biodiversity. 
Likewise around the rest of Racecourse where work has taken place, if anything, the variety of habitat will probaly remain and variety of landscape increase. 
Clearing and widening, main ride Racecourse wood.

Very little of the broadleaved woodland (making up the majority of the woodland habitat in Racecourse) has so far been affected by the work undertaken and almost none in Belmore. And some care seems to have been taken to retain selected trees to retain the woodland landscape and to avoid unnecessary damage.
Thorpe Woodlands can, and is paying for it's keep with the crop so carefully stacked and sorted in the picture below. At the same time the woodlands is still the great and diverse wildlife habitat that we fought to keep, and across the bulk of it's area it's the same beautiful site for recreation (the area in Racecourse pictured top is definitely more so). 

  
The sustainable and renewable crop that pays for the woodland and wildlife we can keep.


Continued litter picking in Racecourse wood







Thursday, 4 September 2014

Forestry returns to Thorpe Woodlands

Since the vote by Broadland District Council to save Thorpe Woodlands in their entirety, we've been awaiting the response of the landowners, and so far it seems very positive.
Although their development proposers, Socially Conscious Capital are still harbouring hopes of yet building on at least part of the County Wildlife Site in future decades, for the time being woodland management has it seems resumed.

Leaflets have been distributed to the public living around the woodlands, signs have appeared informing the public of the forestry work to be undertaken, and (in Belmore at least) the work has started.

The leaflets titled "Racecourse Plantations" (the name of SCC's housing plan for the woods) with carefully selected pictures of the few remaining stands of pine and some barrels which are clearly mean't to create a poor impression of the woods as some kind of hazardous waste site. Typically misleading as usual! These 50 gallon drums are used extensively and legitimately by the Skirmish site, whom the landowners happily rent a portion of the woodlands to.
50 gallon drums used legitimately by Skirmish site
The leaflet outlines the owner's intention to carry out forestry work within licence and one can only hope they stick to that.
Alongside this there's a supposedly reassuring statement that they haven't given up hope of a future date where building on Thorpe Woodlands County Wildlife Site will be acceptable.
Again the argument is made that: Only with the building of a housing estate in the woodlands, can SCC and their employers deliver a public woodland that is both "family friendly" and a "haven to wildlife" plus of course some good quality housing, which if I remember their plan correctly would be a housing estate centred in Racecourse, halving the most diverse and largest habitat of Thorpe Woodlands.
All these are as ever false claims of course, the Woodlands already provide adequate public access, a rich wildlife habitat and while doing all this they already make the landowner a yearly profit after the costs of managing the woodlands.

Interestingly the photos in the leaflet are of areas in Racecourse and the work has so far been limited to Belmore. That being said, the work, especially clearing of rhododendron is very welcome. If (as the photos in the leaflet suggest) the remaining stands of pine are thinned or felled as a part of a positive plan for woodland improvement, this would be very welcome too. If the barrels have been left, maybe by those who rent areas of the woodlands for outdoor activities, and are not still in use, we also welcome their removal.
Some members of the Friends have already undertaken tidying of litter within the woods and will continue to do so.

Finally, there are rumours afoot, spread we're told by a mysterious dark haired lady who wanders the paths of Belmore by day, telling dark tales of how the works underway are a preparation for housing development in the near future. This haunting and mysterious lady it seems exists, but as far as we know her visions are untrue and very unlikely for two reasons. The woodlands are now excluded from development and SCCs plans for building were always centred in Racecourse.

Again the Friends of Thorpe Woodlands welcome the positive work undertaken so far and we welcome the continuation of that in other areas of the woodland. SCC's greed driven negative propaganda we could do without.
Later view of the same area. The last stand of pine in Belmore cleared as of the 9th September. The oak standing amongst them still standing towards background along with other oak and varied saplings.