Well this is the start of the FELP (Forestry & Environmental Learning Programme)… it all starts here.
Firstly, introductions. I’m Rachel.
I’ve been a Volunteer Officer (VO) with BTCV Scotland for the last 18 months, so I’m not entirely *new* (technically I’m an *ex* VO – although this is a frequently debatable point as to whether you can ever actually excape VO-ing) . I’ve also worked with Forestry Commission Scotland during the summer, so I’m comming to this training programme with a substantial amount of experience. This also means I’ve had the joy of blogging before (see the Edinburgh Office Blog).
So last Monday started at Stirling, with introductions all round from Graeme, Julia, Jenny and the other mentors, along with the (Volunteer Development Officers) VDOs from the Stirling and Edinburgh offices.
Tuesday through Thursday was spent out with the mid-week groups (MWG) (yay!) at the new location of Callendar Woods in Falkirk. The wood forms part of the Callendar Estate – comprising of a large house, mausoleum, kennels and historic carriage ways lined with exotic trees. To the north of the woods, remains of the Antonine Wall can be seen. It is believed that there have been woods present on this site for 500 years. Particularly coppicing oak woodlands.
Or at least until BTCV/FELPers set foot on it.
The job was to fell sitka spruces and other non-native species, such as cypress (using the felled material to form habitat piles – a firm BTCV favourite); as this will allow new oak regeneration.
There was much wildlife in the woods: midges (an abundance of these), roe deer, squirrels (their threatening calls sounding more corvid than sciurid), jays with their pink waistcoats and shy snipe scurrying about in the undergrowth. We also started a lichen survey – this is to monitor air quality using lichen as indicator species. ‘I’m sure I’ll learn to lichen it’ and ‘It’s starting to grow on me’ all additional phrases to the usual puns associated with the MWGs. Hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to introduce the MWG and FELPers to some tree identification next time – as this is an excellent location to learn some oak and coniferous trees characteristics.
Friday was spent on a belated site visit to Callendar Woods, along with some tree identification for the FELPers (and Anna), then back to the office (for biscuits) and a well deserved weekend off.
(Note to Edinburgh MWGs as of this week, tree ID walks will be commencing whenever I am out!)