Warden’s Report February 2024

Date: 7th Feb 2024 Author: John Cox

Warden’s Report February 2024

Our field has always been a bit muddy but the recent rains have left us with some very soggy areas and several pools of standing water, severely inhibiting our ability to carry out our planned maintenance. We have a system where each of the scout groups in our district take it in turns to come with parents to help with ditch clearing, hedge trimming, tree thinning and coppicing on the first Saturday in the month during autumn, winter and spring. Having had to cancel our September workday because of the extreme heat, the problem with the last two Saturdays has been extreme cold! Nevertheless, we have managed to carry out coppicing in Biss Wood for Wiltshire Wildlife plus, in our own wood, hedge trimming, selective tree thinning to allow space for the others to mature, coppicing to encourage the hazel to develop productive stools and planting out saplings grown from nuts harvested locally and we have sown a bucket full of hazel nuts to provide plants for next year.

Having owned the site since 2011, we are now working up a new management plan to guide us through the years ahead and enable us the meet Natural England’s requirements when the new Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) comes into being. Our plan envisages development of the site with selective thinning of trees at different stages of the life cycle, little different from the oak standards and coppice rotation in Biss Wood next door but employing the “Continuous Cover” system.  The aim is to develop multigenerational forest with a greater variety of species, leading to a more resilient ecosystem, creating ideal conditions for young trees to germinate and grow. This should boost biodiversity by encouraging natural regeneration and other plants while the canopy protects plants and animals from the extremes of climate change.  Hopefully, this will encourage mature trees, as well as an understorey of mosses, flowering plants, shrubs, young trees and deadwood to provide places for plants, animals and fungi, all benefitting the site’s ecology.

Our overall aim is to make Jubilee Wood into a most attractive camping & wildlife area, providing plenty of cover and variety of habitat, with the provision of habitats for bats very much in mind and where our young members can run free having fun and adventure in a safe environment.

As I write this, two of our cub packs are making bird boxes to put up around the site. As to the wildlife, we seem to be providing a home for a pair of hares and we are seeing an increasing number of birds including sparrowhawk, buzzards, wren, three kinds of thrush, great tits, blue tits and long-tailed tits as well as the not-quiet-so-welcome magpies. No doubt all of them are, like me, looking forward to the warmer weather and the first signs of spring – we already have catkins on the hazel and the first primroses peeking through and today one of plum trees has burst into flower.

John Cox  Site Warden

February 2024

Put your phone down and what are you left with? Just teamwork, courage and the skills to succeed.’
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls