Wednesday work party
by Ian Bushell
The weather was again kind to the working party: dry but not too hot. Another good turn out, just missing Sarah and Alan who are on holiday.
We continued with the task of maintenance of the Arboretum. In the past couple of weeks or so we have removed a lot of the undergrowth, raised the crowns of some trees and removed small saplings. Last week, Rich Murphy, Wiltshire Tree & Woodland Officer, visited the park to mark up those bigger Arboretum trees that need to be removed in order to create small glades or to allow others to flourish.
 Ash Die-Back  cutting back undergrowth to clear small glades among the trees.
This next stage in maintenance would require a little more care and consideration on the part of the Friends. Rich joined us to again to remind us of the Health and Safety requirements and to demonstrate the correct and safe working practices for pruning and felling trees with hand tools and for the safe removing of trees with Ash Dieback. Suitably equipped with fluorescent orange helmets, safety gloves and goggles we went through practical demonstrations of the ways of removal of trees of up to about 15cm diameter. Satisfied with our competence Rich went off for other tasks in the county and we chose our adversaries.
Most of those trees removed in this session were damaged Ash which, once felled, were stripped down and added to the piles to form hibernacula. Also some damaged Oaks were hard pruned and the trunks left for later removal by contractors. The aim is for the Friends to remove those trees within their competence, particularly damaged Ash, throughout the reserve to provide a clearer view [wood for trees] for Rich to assess the work that will need to be carried out by contractors rather than volunteers.
It is going to be a long task, together with the haloing of the veteran trees, but will save money for the council and extend the small Countryside/Rights of Way budget.
With a bit of joy next week we can finish our part of the clearance of the Arboretum leaving the stumps and bigger trees for the contractors, and will move on – already the tasks are lining up.