County Wildlife Site Survey by Cornwall Wildlife Trust

Chris Hussey

The woods management group became aware that Bosahan Woods are classified by Cornwall Council as a ‘County Wildlife Site’. This is a county-specific designation that does not have the statutory significance of, say, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It has meant, though, that we are entitled to a free survey of wildlife in the wood carried out by Cornwall Wildlife Trust, with associated management recommendations. Accordingly, the woods were surveyed earlier in the year by Sue Hocking of CWT.

The report received has some interesting observations and a number of specific recommendations. Perhaps some of the more significant are that we should aim to:

  • over time, reduce the beech dominance of the wood, to improve the wildlife value of the wood, and to also increase resilience to climate change;
  • remove non-native species with invasive tendencies;
  • re-coppice some of the hazel in the formerly coppiced area, with the aim of reintroducing a coppicing rotation;
  • make some native shrub plantings to supplement the ‘sparse understory’;
  • consider applying for a Countryside Stewardship Woodland Management Plan grant to support production of a 10 year woodland management plan

Adopting these recommendations would in some respects, and in the longer term, change the character of the wood. We will need some significant local consultation on how far and how quickly we move to adopt them. The full report can be read here:

Bird and bat boxes – follow-up

Chris Hussey

With a good response to his proposal for community-supported bird and bat box project, Terry Swainsbury followed up his initial article in Constant Times with this one for the November / December / January issue:

I would like to thank, Martin, Jack, Stewart, Roger, Mark, Jan, Alex, Robert, Mike, Luke, Andrew and Chris for their enthusiastic response to my appeal for the building of bird and bat boxes. I have already received notification from some volunteers about their completed projects. Please could you either keep the box or boxes until March or alternatively I could collect and store them. If anyone else would like copies of the plans, please contact me. However, I am conscious that we are in the first phase of the project and I am mindful of needlessly overpopulating the woods with nesting opportunities! With this in mind, I would advise that if you would like to contribute to the project, please hold fire until I have a better idea of the numbers and types of boxes made.

Please feel free to contact me for further advice or information. I’m particularly keen for children to get involved in improving the biodiversity of the woods. If anyone has ideas regarding building ‘Bug Hotels’ or similar child-friendly projects, then I’m open to ideas.

Terry Swainsbury (on behalf of the Bosahan Woodlands Committee)

01326 340661

Supporting the wildlife of Bosahan Woods

Chris Hussey

For the September / October Issue of Constant Times, Terry Swainsbury (a member of the Bosahan Woods Management Group) contributed this article:

As part of a programme to support the biodiversity of Bosahan Woods, it is planned to place a number of bird, owl and bat boxes at suitable locations. This is a community project that you may like to help with. Since coming into ownership of the village, as a result of a generous benefactor, Bosahan Woods has become the responsibility of all of us who care, not just for this beautiful place, but nature in general. This is a great opportunity to enhance the habitat by encouraging more birds and bats to think of the woods as their home. I am therefore looking for anyone who has basic carpentry skills to build a bird, owl or bat box using the simple plans that I can provide.

The plans give details about the materials and tools needed. At the moment, the idea is to number and place the boxes in sites that will optimise their use. Once fixed to a particular tree, it is hoped that the locations will be recorded on a map available for everyone visiting the woods to use.

The plans are very simple, although the bat and owl boxes require a little more work. If you have a young family, this could be a great opportunity to involve your children in the making. Once in situ, you and your family will have your own, small real estate and investment in the future of the woods.

Part of my motivation for this project is to encourage present and future generations to enjoy this wonderful place and to promote a personal responsibility for the woods and its management. I’m also thinking of setting up a feeding station for birds that will be maintained all year round. Hopefully, with your help, we can make Bosahan Woods a special place for humans and animals alike.

For plans or advice, please contact me either by email or phone. I can then send you the appropriate plans that have been provided by Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Email: Telephone: 01326 340661.

Example owl box

A Fallen Giant

Chris Hussey

In the June / July issue of Constant Times, the Bosahan Woods report mentioned that a large beech tree beside the lower path had fallen. The path, resurfaced in the 1980s, had been laid across the roots of the tree. As the tree fell it carried away the path and left a cavernously unsafe hole where the path had been. Trapped in the root ball, and suspended over the hole, were a number of large rocks that presented a further hazard to anyone venturing near. Those have since been removed, and projecting roots trimmed back. Given the difficulties of access, repair to the path itself caused a bit of head-scratching, with various approaches being considered. The path has now been reinstated, and safe passage restored. As for the fallen tree itself, it is likely that it will be left in place. Lying deadwood provides an important habitat and food resource for an enormous range of organisms, so the best policy is probably to leave it as is!

Signs now in place

Chris Hussey

When a large part of the Bosahan woods was gifted into community ownership, one of the intentions was to place some signs at the points where footpaths entered the community-owned section. As well as providing a helpful map, the aim was to remind visitors to respect the wildlife and to respect other users of the woods. It took rather longer than anticipated, but the signs are now in position, one at each of the four public path entrances to the community-owned section of the woods.

Bosahan Woods Path Restoration Work

Chris Hussey

(Reproduced from Constant Times Volume 8, Issue 5; authored by Liz Pearce)

When Bosahan Woods was given to the charity, Constantine Enterprise Company, one of the conditions of the gift, was the restoration of the main paths through the woods, which was last done in 1988 by the Manpower Services Commission. Last October we worked on the top path with volunteers giving over 600 hours of their time, trying to make the path as accessible as possible to everyone. This October we wanted to complete the path from the quarry to the Bridge. After much planning and organisation we started work on Wednesday 9th October, which was made very difficult by the persistent rain, day after day, I have never been so bedraggled in my life. The first two days we could not erect the tent for refreshments as it was too windy. Muriel our benefactor and Martin Day turned a transit van into a mobile canteen serving hot drinks and food. On the Saturday we managed to get a tent up and this became the centre for breaks and lunches. We have to say a huge thank you to all those who provided cakes, sandwiches, sausage rolls, snacks, fruit and Muriel for the hot drinks and pasties, supplied at discount by The Spar Shop, so thank you Kevin. We managed to speak to almost everyone who used the paths, over the 7 day period, as we were on site from 7.30 am: hikers, runners, walkers, dog walkers, horse riders and families, which amounted to hundreds of people. Almost all were very pleased with the restoration work. One lady actually said “I can now walk beside my friend and we can have a conversation, instead of carefully picking our way through the woods one behind the other, in silence”. Another said “we have such beautiful views of the stream now, instead of looking where our feet are”. We watched two daughters take their elderly mother down the new path, one on either side of her. Her first visit to this part of the woods in 10 years.

We obtained a felling licence for essential work and with the invaluable help of Richard Mann and John Williams, who gave their time and expertise free of charge, Richard even brought his own digger, plus over 400 hours of volunteer time, we almost completed the path.

Path Restoration

Big thank you John and Bridget Olds and family for their continued support allowing us to use the quarry as a base of operations, also to Alan, Adrian, Chris, Lucy, Janet, Bridget, Phoebe, Lee, Muriel, Elfie, Stuart, Stewart, Mark, Steve, Nick, Robin, Carol, Jenny, Stephan, Michelle, Shirley, Emily, Martin, Kevin, Luci, Becci, Angela, Jane, Paula, Jenny S., Steve S., Leo, Elsie and Jem. Although it was hard work, we all enjoyed working together, if you feel you would like to join our band of helpers, please let me know, we will probably have to finish the job by hand, due to the nature of the remaining bit of path – perhaps in the spring of next year, when it is drier. The next big area of work will be in the long term management of the woods/trees, and we will be looking to secure expert advice, putting together a 20 year plan. There are many things to consider: e.g. the type of wood, the range of tree species, the saplings, the many Sycamore seedlings, the standing and felled dead wood, the canopy with regard to the bluebells, Ash die back (which has reached Penryn), to thin or not to thin, to plant more trees or not, the eco system, the carbon footprint, the sustainability etc, etc.

A Year of Forest School

Chris Hussey

(Reproduced from Constant Times Volume 8, Issue 5; authored by Elfie Carson)

It has been just over a year since Constantine Pre-school began regular Forest School sessions in the community-owned section of Bosahan Woods. And what an incredible year it has been. We have enjoyed so many different adventures! Here are just a few of the things we have got up to… learned how to light fires and cook outside, built dens, paddled in the stream, meditated in the trees, found bugs, toads and badger sets, used tools to cut firewood and make musical instruments, gone exploring, learned how to make natural paints, prints and sculptures, climbed trees, told stories, played games, made boats… and many other things besides. The children are enjoying the sessions immensely, as are the staff, and we have all developed new skills. We have found that the children’s physical development and confidence have flourished: they are taking risks together and meeting new challenges in an exciting environment, which means that their self-esteem and emotional resilience are also increasing. Every session we watch them tackle problems with enthusiasm and work out new ways of doing things, but most importantly they are forging solid and lasting friendships with each other.

Forest School activities

We are also noticing the impact of our time in the woods back in the classroom: the children are calm, caring and considerate to each other. We are having a lovely time together! Many of the children are spending more time in the woods, outside of the preschool hours, sharing their experiences with other family members. We hope their experiences will give them an understanding and respect for the natural world, as well as a feeling of investment and love for their local woodland and the community that care for it. Constantine Preschool would like to thank Muriel Lawrence and the Bosahan Woods Management Team for their support in setting up and running the Forest School sessions; the Evans family and all at Nanjarrow Farm for their support with access and the storage box; the local resident who regularly cuts back the brambles at toddler height; Martin and his strimmer; the Preschool committee; all of the dog-walkers, hikers, runners and horse riders, who generously share the woods with us; the parents, friends and grandparents who have volunteered at sessions in the woods; and finally the children and staff for embracing this new adventure with such energy and enthusiasm. Here’s to another fantastic year of Forest School fun!

Piskies Galore!

Chris Hussey

In November the woods were the chosen location for a film produced by students from Falmouth University as part of their course. The film was styled as a ‘mockumentary’, with the story based around an individual’s hunt for piskies in the woods, based on evidence left by his grandfather. The photos are stills from two scenes in the film, showing the protagonist explaining his quest, and later camping out while on the hunt. Anyone who has been at the north end of the woods as the dusk comes down might agree that this was the perfect location!

Trisha Corrales, a member of the team, said: “I was the Producer for the film “Cornish Piskies| Fact or Fiction?” and we decided on filming in Bosahan after stumbling upon it online. When we visited the location for a recce, we collectively decided it was the perfect place to shoot at because the overall atmosphere of the woods was so incredibly enchanting. The hues of the leaves on the ground and the darkness that winter brings helped to improve the mystical atmosphere of our film and it adds authenticity as the main focus of our film was the Cornish Piskies. In addition, shooting in the woods was a marvellous change from shooting on campus and in studios as it allowed us to exercise our creativity. As a crew, we are very thankful to have been allowed to shoot in a delightful environment and we hope that other people will feel the same about the woods.”

The finished film can be viewed on Youtube as Cornish Piskies | Fact or Fiction? where the full film crew are credited.

Constantine Preschool Forest School Sessions

Elfie Carson

Since mid-September, Constantine Preschool have been holding regular Forest School sessions in Bosahan Woods. Children and staff alike are thoroughly enjoying their woodland adventures; typical sessions include lighting a fire (in a fire-bowl), playing in the stream and exploring the different paths through the woods. Recently they had a bear hunt along the riverside path and found a frog hiding amongst the logs of one of the newly laid raft bridges! Often a morning snack is cooked on the fire, and includes popcorn, cinnamon and raisin porridge and, next week, chocolate baked bananas. The children also love doing various crafts, using natural materials, such as felt acorns, painting with natural paints and leaf stitching. You may have noticed the recent addition of a circle of beech logs near the wooden bridge at the edge of the community-owned boundary. This is the main location for Forest School sessions. These sessions will run throughout the year (on Mondays and Wednesdays until February half-term and then on Tuesday and Thursdays). We are excited to see what each season will bring.

Path Restoration – October 2018

Chris Hussey

From Friday October 5th through to Sunday October 14th, a succession of volunteers helped to restore the upper path through the woods. With an array of equipment hired – a couple of mini dumpers, digger, roller, and backhoe loader – some 280 tons of gravel and surface dressing were applied, levelled and rolled. Path edges were reinforced where needed with logs or boards pinned into place. All the material was delivered to the quarry end of the woods, where the ‘depot’ was set up – a small marquee where further volunteers provided a stream of teas, coffees, sandwiches, cakes and pasties to keep the workforce going. The weather (in the form of storm Callum) interrupted the work for two days, but other than that, the dumpers were always on the go, trundling to and fro, gradually extending the length of laid path. In support, other volunteers in hi-vis jackets flitted through the woods bearing shovels and rakes, saws, hammers and pins, building up the path edges, smoothing areas the digger could not reach. By the final Sunday, the top path had been completed, laid and rolled from one end to the other, providing a fine level surface suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.

During the first weekend, a separate campaign had improved the streamside path, removing obstructing branches and undergrowth, laying cut branches to provide footing across the boggy bits, and building a safe access path at the quarry end.

The middle path remains to be done. It is planned to raise further funds to allow this to be carried out, with another campaign of path restoration pencilled in for Spring 2019. In the meantime, the community can reflect on the remarkable achievements so far – 600 volunteer hours from a wide cross-section of parish residents – providing greatly increased accessibility to the beautiful Bosahan Woods.