As it has now been over 8 months since the Maryburgh Community Woodland committee had been formed and to many residents it does not appear that much has changed. However, the committee members have been busy over the last 8 months working to improve the woodland.
Our First Priorities
Our first priorities were to make the woodland safe for everyone using it and to find out what members of the community want to see the woodland being used for.
To make the woodland safe several Scots Pine trees and a group of Downy Birch had been identified in the Tree Safety survey as a risk of falling. As all the trees in our woodland are protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO), approval had to be obtained from the Highland Council to cut them down and remove them. A qualified Tree Surgeon was employed and removed the dangerous trees at the end of May. The tree safety survey had also identified further trees that should be removed by the end of November of this year. The tree surgeon has been pencilled in to do this work by the end of October.
In April the results of a paper and online consultation with residents was completed and the summary results are now available online. See Summary
Two trees have fallen recently in the woodland. A Sitka Spruce which was due to be felled at the end of November. The second is a large branch of an Oak tree. The committee are aware of both of these trees and while the Tree Surgeon will remove the Sitka Spruce, it is hoped that funding will be found to remove the Oak tree branch. We are now looking at signs with QR codes to allow residents to identify fallen or dangerous trees to prevent them from breaking the TPO by removing them without permission.
Some people may be asking why nothing has been done to remove the felled trees or the dead branches that are lying around. The cut timber lying in the woodland has been identified to go to a local charity, the Maryburgh Mens Shed. The Mens shed are excited to have so much timber available on their doorstep and plan to use it over the next few months for projects they have identified. These projects will help to raise funds for the Mens Shed or to benefit our community in other ways.
The remaining dead wood is also to be used. Some members of the community in the consultation identified the need to enhance biodiversity. By leaving branches to decompose naturally they provide suitable habitats for micro organisms and insect larvae to mature. The dead wood also provides a nursery area for new seeds and young plants to grow. In turn many species of animals and birds feed on these organisms and help increase the biodiversity of the woodland.
Flooding down the existing formal tracks has caused erosion of these tracks and made them difficult for people to navigate. Plans are being prepared to provide adequate methods to collect the run-off and reduce the flooding. As part of the flood scheme the existing formal tracks will need to be reinstated with suitable cambers to allow water to run-off into the woodland. This is still at an early stage and a source of funding will be needed for this work.
Work is also proceeding for the longer term.
A 10 year Development Management Plan is being prepared and it is hoped that this will open up various funding streams in the future. Other funding applications have also been submitted and it is hoped these will be successful.