Category Archives: Ancient woodland

John Muir by Chloe D

John Muir was born on 21 April 1838 in Dunbar and died on December 24 1914. He was a naturalist , he was passionate about nature. He pioneered the study of ecology.

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He was an activist who worked to help preservation within the western forest in the USA.

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Today we are continuing his work looking after the enviroment.

“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks”

“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness”

“The power of imagination makes us infinite”

“The mountains are calling me, I must go”

– John Muir.

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John Muir Award week 3.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

John Muir Week 2

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Week 2 of John Muir award was spent getting the group aclimatized to both the outdoors and to each other.
The kids were encouraged to work with those that perhaps they didn’t know as well as the ones they regularly hooked up with and they undertook a trust exercise. One person was blindfolded and then led through the forest while being totally dependant on their partner to keep them safe from trip hazards, stinging nettles and whatever else might cause problems while walking through a forest blindfolded.

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The idea was to try to get the person fairly disoriented and lead them to a tree. They would need to feel the tree and it’s close surroundings and then, once led back to the start try to identify which tree you were led to. Chloe had a go at leading me blindfolded and I was pretty rubbish at it, she had got me well and truly disorientated!

Next we talked about fire safety and were shown how to light a fire. We were sent out to find tinder, kindling and larger logs for sustained fuel.

It was lovely sitting in the forest with a fire warming us while the kettle booked to make hot chocolate.

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