Week 3 of Forest School began with getting used to a new setting. Weeks one and two were held in Cannock Chase, but it was necessary for a new and more permanent environment to be found and this week we were introduced to the area that we will be working in up until Christmas.
We set about exploring the area, identifying some of the plants and trees we could see around us. This time of year there are plenty of elderberries around.
Katy pointed out that there are an awful lot of sycamore trees in the area. This needs to be controlled to avoid the area becoming dominated by sycamores.
The site we are in is very close to a stately home whose gardeners have planted Rhododendrons. These plants are very invasive, they have worked their roots under the ground into the woodland area, and they are literally everywhere!! The area we are in is an ancient woodland area and it is beneficial to ensure as diverse a range of plants and trees as possible is able to grow in order to sustain the wildlife in the area. Rhododendrons invading the area however, limits the amount of plants that will grow into frutition, since they create such a low canopy, nothing can grow under it.
So we have identified 2 pieces of conservation work thus far – the removal of budding sycamore trees and the removal of rhododendrhons.
We explored the area finding a lot of wood covered in coral fungai, as well as birch trees that were rotted from the inside out and had some very rubbery fungus growing all around it. We had a rather close call with a wasps nest, before finding the dried out remains of what would have been some amazingly gorgeous bluebells in the spring. I plan on visiting the area once the forest school is over to mark how it changes in appearance through the different seasons.
We found a place to hold our camp this week and began gathering logs and creating a fire pit and a circle of logs to gather round. Chloe and I were fascinated by a birch tree that looked twisted. It was part of a cluster of birches that had somehow fallen. We decided there must have been ivy growing on it that had strangled the trunk and caused it to take on the twisted appearence. The time goes too fast on our mornings in the forest, so it was soon time to head back. We are both looking forward to getting stuck into some work in the forest in future weeks.