Quarterly Report 9 – October 2020

1. Changes in responsibilities

Since the last report to the CEC Board, there have been some changes of membership and responsibilities within the management group. After more than two years of exceptional service to the group, Liz and Alan Pearce resigned their positions (as nominees of the benefactor) on the management group. Muriel Lawrence has invited Terry Swainsbury to fill one of these places, and for a short period acted as a committee member herself. She has since invited Peter Saverton to fill the remaining nominee place. Chris Hussey is now acting as chair of the group, with Gerelyn Blackstone-Karapanos replacing Dr. Adrian Roberts as the other CEC member of the group, following his resignation from the CEC Board. The new group invited Adrian to continue as a co-opted member of the group. Other co-opted members are Michael Hawes and Steve Moore, who is the group’s treasurer.

2. Fallen Tree

Shortly before the last report was produced, a large beech tree beside the lower public path had fallen, creating a large and deep hole in the path as it fell. Some initial safety work was carried out by Iron Orchid, mainly to remove hazardous rocks suspended in the rootball, and to remove projecting roots. It turned out that Cornwall Council had been informed of an obstruction to the path and accordingly issued a notice requiring the obstruction to be cleared by August 15th. The task of reinstating the path initially seemed problematic, apparently requiring a substantial amount of material to be brought in to fill the hole. Michael Hawes suggested contacting K Hill & Partners, a commercial landscaping firm known to him professionally. Alex Hill visited the site and quoted a price of £565.00 ex VAT, with a view to being able to use material at the site to fill the hole. Given the approaching deadline imposed by Cornwall Council and a lower cost than anticipated, the committee proposed (with the subsequent approval of Muriel Lawrence) to waive the normal requirement to receive at least two quotes for items over £150. In the event, Hills completed the work on the 15th August, doing what was generally recognised as a ‘good job’.

3. Bird and bat box initiative

Following a proposal at a woods group meeting, Terry Swainsbury wrote an article for the Constant Times inviting members of the local community to make bird or bat boxes (to standard designs) to be placed in the woods to encourage wildlife. There was a good response, with more than 10 people offering to construct boxes. The intention is that construction will take place during the winter, with the boxes being put in position in early spring.

4. Volunteer Corps

At the most recent meeting there was discussion of the benefits of having a ‘standing’ corps of volunteers available to carry out regular maintenance, such as path drain clearing and leaf clearing, plus other ad-hoc requirements. In past years there have been major one-off community activities concerned with path restoration, and there remains about 200m of the lower public path to be restored, but there are no plans for that to be tackled this year. It seems that there are a number of people who would be willing to volunteer for smaller scale activities, and this would be a good way of retaining community involvement.

5. Potential for a woods Maintenance Contract

It is inevitable that the management of community woods with public paths requires on occasion some urgent safety-related work to remove broken branches or fell trees. This usually requires the involvement of tree professionals (CEC is not insured for volunteers to use chainsaws or other powered tools). The work has often not been major, but typically will cost more than the £150 limit set out in the Deed of Trust, above which we must receive at least two quotes. Some difficulties arise from this:

a) There are not that many specialist tree firms, though there are many firms that will offer tree services as one aspect of their work, typically at a lower price than the specialist;

b) The specialist may become unwilling to quote repeatedly for small-ish pieces of work

c) One has in fact refused to quote on the basis that they do not wish to engage in a ‘race to the bottom’ on price;

d) The woods group feels it would be desirable to be able to develop a relationship with a trusted supplier whose work was known to be reliable and of good quality.

Michael Hawes has suggested that the group might consider putting in place a maintenance contract for the woods that may help to get around some of these problems. Discussion of this is at an early stage but it will be given more consideration.

6. Memorial Bench

There has been a request for a further memorial bench in the woods, which the committee has approved. It is expected that no further such requests will be approved, given that the character of the woods would be changed by the appearance of many benches. The committee will instead consider other styles of memorial that would be more appropriate.

7. Swings and Dens

Peter Saverton has volunteered to take over the regular monitoring of swings and dens, etc., from Dr. Adrian Roberts. The most prominent swing, towards the quarry end of the woods, remains problematic, in that the support branch has a fungal infection which may weaken it, despite its apparent bulk and strength. We have invited Tim Scott-Ellis, of Evolve Tree Consultancy, to give a professional opinion on its condition.

Chris Hussey

Bosahan Woods Management Group