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Minutes of Core Group Meeting
19th Feb 2015
Present: Martin Calvert (Chair), Adam and Carol Bull, Mervyn & Joan Clayton, Diane & Trevor Kitto, Naomi Watts-Kitto, Jenny Page, Adrian Coltman, Pete Foulston, Paul Ellis, Mike Bateman, Kay McDowell, Robert Jones, Claire Standage, Robert Meadly, Sue Fletcher, Vanora Moore, Lucy Evans, Malcolm Robertson, Stephen Tyndale-Biscoe, Karl Sinclair, Justin Williamson, Glenn Gorner, Councillor Bill Urry, Christine Osborne, John & Jenny Farley, Stephen Johns, Sue Watson, Richard Peterson.
1. Apologies for Absence
Michael Betteridge, Geoff Holden.
2. Minutes of the Meeting Held 12th January 2015
Agreed as a true record.
3. Matters Arising
- Missing Cheque
The missing cheque issue has been resolved.
- Grant Applications
Adrian has applied for some MICE money.
- FGVW AGM
FGVW held its AGM on Friday 23rd January 2015.
Steve Joule one of Leeds City Council's Park Rangers has confirmed that a Ranger will be attending March/April Action Mornings.
5. Action Mornings
- Sunday 18 January 2015
23 volunteers attended the Action Morning. It was raining with ice, sleet and snow throughout the morning. Work was done on Audrey's meadow and cutting back laurel and brambles with the aid of Leeds City Council. Cannabis plants were also found again near Gledhow Valley Lane. Steve Joul, a Park Ranger, will be attending. He hopes to attend at least four a year. It is also hoped that the bamboo and Japanese knotweed can be sprayed.
Future Action Mornings
Proposed dates and tasks (subject to change):
- Sunday 22 February 2015
The meadow needs to be cleared. Laurel needs to be cleared away from the paths from when the Council cut it back during the previous Action Morning. Spots to be cleaned off trees.
- Sunday 22 March 2015
- Saturday 11 April 2015
6. The Proposal to increase diversity of age and species of tree in the woods
Glenn Gorner (Environmental Manager) and Justin Williamson from Leeds City Council (LCC) kindly attended the meeting to discuss the tree management program with the community.
Glenn gave a comprehensive talk at the meeting including the following points:
Nothing is to be done until consultation has taken place. No work other than health & safety work has been done so far. For example, a lime tree had to be taken down as it had cracked a gas main so the road had to be closed for 2 days.
Glen set the context for future proposed work: Two thirds of FGVW is registered as re-planted ancient woodland, "high status". Leeds has 9 such woodlands that are re-planted ancient woodland. LCC are trying to restore them as ancient woodland as they would have been with native trees. All LCC woodlands are FSC and meet sustainability standards. Part of the work planned over time is to replace and make the woods more like native, ancient woodland. We also need to protect the woodland for the future.
Environmental and climate changes bring challenges. Flash floods, warmer but wetter and more water logged soil bring problems. We should expect more severe winter storms, high winds and tree damage. LCC have crews on standby 24 hours, 365 days a year to clear transport routes due to fallen and damaged trees.
We can mix species of trees to help with this but we have also had a massive increase in pests and diseases that has spread. LCC have been looking to change species to adapt to the climate but also need to increase diversity to get sustainable stock.
Five tree species make up broad woodland in the UK. Oak (32%), Ash (14%), Beech (14%), Sycamore (11%) and Birch (6%).
Oak - two new diseases. Sudden oak death is leading to acute oak decline.
Ash - suffers from ash die back. There is a Leeds Action Plan for when we see it in Leeds. Currently found in the Bradford/Kirklees area. Some trees will not get it, younger trees will die, although some may recover. Ash regenerates from seed so it will breed itself out of the problem.
Beech - attacked by two fungi found only in the south and south west of the country so far. It arrived around 2006 in the UK from plants like azaleas and rhododendrons. Kills beech and oaks. Also attacking larch. The Pennines are acting as a barrier to us but climate change may change this.
Sycamore - Fungi attacking in Northern Italy. Not yet in the UK.
Birch - beetles are killing them from the top down in North America. We haven't seen it in the UK yet.
All 5 species are threatened by disease.
We need to increase age structures of beech to assist diversity and accept greater species in the canopy. Need to build variety. Natural regeneration will help the woodland to survive. All woodlands have 20 year management plans but these are not set in stone due to changes in climate, disease, research, etc.
LCC don't plant monocultures, and may not stick to native species. Beech has very shallow roots and may not survive climate change in the South. There is a chance of them continuing in the North.
Regarding the painted spots on trees - FSC engages with people if we should or should not remove some trees. This is why LCC consulted with FGVW. Justin Williamson's action of putting spots on trees is how LCC have applied for a felling licence, which they have to by law. If granted LCC don't have to actually do any work immediately, the licence lasts for a long time, so they can do the work as and when they want to. The Forestry Commission came out to look at the spots for the felling licence then LCC can consult on what is actually to be done. Glenn was pleased to see so many local people were interested in trees and forestry.
LCC's aim is to engage, discuss and make sure everyone understands the facts and context. Glen has already discussed with Christine Osborne of the Conversation Group regarding heritage. The Beech stand is early 20th Century and is man-made. The canopy is now closed. In a mono-culture of beech, nothing grows underneath. It is an old canopy with old trees so there are 4 options:
- Do nothing, which LCC doesn't support since it will lead to tree failures and pose a threat to people and property.
- Revisit what Justin has proposed i.e. thinning, with group selection. If we create more light then we can encourage more species and plants. It is a low intensity change. It was done in the past and is done in cycles usually 15/20 years apart. Justin's wish, but how do we pay for it? It is incredibly expensive to divert resources from the Council. We need private contractors who will pay for standing timber. LCC will break even or make a small profit. It is supervised by Council teams. LCC need a big enough parcel to make it worthwhile for the contractors.
- Thin Beech trees by 25% to attract contractors. We would get regeneration, and then thin out when it grows with a new stand of Beech.
- Combination of thinning and planting different species.
LCC are not planning on doing any work this year until consultation. There's a lot to do and we all need to work together.
Paul Ellis asked about the Lime. Glenn stated that they no longer reproduce by seed and are not shallow rooted. It is not a dominant species. The roots remain and the tree regenerates itself.
Sue raised concerns that, looking back, things have disappeared without consultation and plans e.g. Rhododendrons have gone. Without the spots on trees we wouldn't have known what was happening in a conservation area. Glenn explained that rhododendrons are a problem and it can regenerate from small pieces and seeds. It all secretes toxins in the soil and prevents other species from growing. It was reintroduced in the 19th Century for game (pheasants) and it looks nice. From a woodland management point of view it is not helpful as it is too dark.
The woodland management plan Justin is working to is a new plan.
7. An outline of the planning and consultation processes involved in making changes in Gledhow Valley Woods / An overview on the long term plan for Gledhow Valley Woods - the vision, the landscape design, projects etc.
Martin gave an overview of the history of FGVW and explained what the Group does. We started holding meetings with the community once a year but at the last one only 5 people turned up so we started holding FunDays instead. These entertain the local community and also allow us to let people know what we are doing in the woods and encourage them to join in.
Adrian explained that the FunDay attracts around 1,000 people each year. We ask people to comment on the work we do, on the path works and clearing. People are interested in the work we do. This year we had large maps out where people could comment on the tree management plans.
Leeds City Council does not have to apply for permission to remove trees in Gledhow Valley Woods as they are Council trees on Council land, but for transparency they choose to do so anyway.
Christine asked about notices for the public to see. Glenn explained that they are signed by a planning officer and everything is explained in the notice and on the planning permission site.
The Norwegian Maple was removed to encourage an alternative habitat and it was in the centre of the meadow area to be planted with native wildflowers to attract bees and butterflies.
Sue asked about the Ash near the lake which is part of the felling licence and if it was due to cosmetic reasons to open up the lake area. The Council representatives said that everyone had the opportunity to have a say in the management plan. These last for 5-10 years so that they don't have to apply for planning permission all the time.
Paul mentioned the woodland near Hebden Bridge. They deliberately didn't put Ash in as they would make there way there anyway. He asked if there are any trees subject to preservation orders? The Council stated that all the tree preservation orders are mapped out on the website as part of the City Development Plan.
A member said that there were diverse views on what happens in the woods. Some like it because it had been allowed to run wild, others want it more like parkland. A concern with felling is that it would be repeated and there is no money for replanting. Also there are flooding issues in the valley - in wet weather the drains flood. There was an assumption that Beech is there for water management. The Council responded by saying the policy was for continuous cover. Have to recruit natural regeneration with help. Woodland can absorb rainwater. Forestry grants based on biodiversity and water management. It's not LCC's intention to reduce canopy cover. They are increasing tree canopy cover for water management purposes.
A member asked about the tree spots and mentioned the 2012 document for pollarding. The Council responded by saying that the trees pollarded were done so as dead standing trees for biodiversity and to encourage invertebrates. At Temple Newsam this has been done in plantations. LCC have been doing low intensity thinning but it can be a shock to the public when its done although now it has been accepted due to the regeneration.
A member mentioned that West Yorkshire Ecologists did a survey last year. Would the Council accept the management plan based on diversity? The Council asked for the documents and information to be sent to them so it could be taken into account.
The Council also said that the FSC monitor their actions, usually by photos and site inspections. LCC wouldn't necessarily replant. The woods will regenerate themselves. We can manipulate natural species in urban spaces. Health & Safety is important. We need to enrich the species and we can't with a Beech canopy as it is too dark. Trees will naturally go and also changes in wind will affect the trees. When the canopy is opened up we will get Beech regeneration but we need to look at alternative species.
A member said that people worried when they saw stark changes so it has to be gradual regeneration. Glenn didn't understand the anxiety with woodland management. We need to champion meadowland for wildlife. It is all part of good woodland management.
Councillor Bill Urry said that he had had many discussions with Glenn. Nothing will happen this year or next. The spots did send out an unfortunate message. Beech is lovely but he has been persuaded that woodland needs management. FGVW got a lot of stick over something they did not agree to.
Peter asked why we have to wait until 2017 if there needs to be woodland management. The Council responded by saying that there would be some work due to Health & Safety but he was anxious to avoid similar situations in the past where people had strongly objected to the work. He referred to a previous case that was labelled as a massacre in the woods as 1,000 trees were felled in an area. Despite lots of consultation the Council were criticised for "doing it wrong". Glenn was brought in to work with the community. A group was set up to learn about woodland management. Another example was Gipton Woods in the 1990s. There was strong opposition and strong support. Explained that this was in line with FSC but the regenerations could take 5-6 years to happen. The lesson was learned that LCC needs to work with everyone.
The Gledhow Valley Woods work has been halted so these examples don't happen again and LCC can make sure they communicate properly. LCC will:
- Communicate to people.
- Educate people.
- Engage and come and help.
- Undertake the work.
There is lots of work to do in Leeds so LCC will work in other parts of Leeds for a while before they come back to Gledhow. The team has a modest fund and they use this to match funds from the Government. Groups can also apply for grants if planting is needed. Regeneration is robust and free. The spots can be removed by rubbing soil on the bark.
In the long term it has multifunction benefit. Eco-system services with long term continuous cover. LCC are also looking to connect with Urban Buzz to create more wildflower meadows to attract bees and other wildlife.
A member asked about recreational use and if there is an on-going concern for paths. Access to well being commitment but grants for this have been removed by the Government. Martin explained that FGVW build and do maintenance work on the paths and we are open to suggestions on how we can continue with this.
Christine mentioned how important vistas were in a conservation area and that heritage is important.
John said that everyone had passionate views and that there was a diversity of views. He thanked Glenn and Justin for an interesting discussion and said it was good to communicate.
Martin also thanked Glenn and Justin. He said "people want what is best for the woods. We need experts like yourselves and trust you for the future".
8. Audrey's Meadow
Elaine Hill has had a look into work on the meadow. Leeds City Council has sprayed it and turned the soil over so that seeds will grow and plants will establish. FGVW will put in wildflower meadow seed and plug plants in which will be a mix of perennials and annuals during March/April. The Group hopes to apply for a Green Leeds Grant.
9. FGVW FunDay 2015
FGVW have a new "Director of Fun" - Steve. Steve has received some guidance from Martin. He also has the insurance certificate from Paul so he will apply to Leeds City Council to see if the FunDay can go ahead.
- Morley Exotic Animals have been booked.
- 2 face painters have been booked (with a possible back-up).
- The Group need to think about what entertainment we need and do we want to change any of the stalls. (Christine Osborne recommended the Blue Sharks).
- Adam to send an e-mail out to see if any entertainment bands would like to come for expenses only.
- Need a magician.
- Joan would like a wishing tree again.
- Jenny to email Steve regarding stalls.
- Request for bigger hooks on hook-a-duck.
- Prizes needed - Naomi has already bought a large selection.
- Radish is very keen to attend - Adam to invite.
- Willow was popular last year but may need to be adapted to make something different.
- Group would like a tombola but need volunteers to do it and collect and store prizes. A risk assessment also needs to be done.
- Adam to invite Talon Falconry Birds of Prey.
- FunDay to be placed at the top of next month's meeting agenda so that things can be booked.
- FGVW BBQ
Paul and Hazel are keen to do a barbeque for the Group as it didn't happen last year. A date to be arranged.
- Gledhow Valley Conservation Area Group AGM
Christine Osborne invited everyone to attend their AGM in 4th March at Gledhow Sports & Social Club. They are looking for new committee members. Free cheese and wine.
- Jenny Page E-mail Hacked
Jenny advised the Group that her e-mail account had been hacked so to ignore any e-mails send from her account.
- Future Work in the Woods
Joan gave out a list of ideas for work in the woods over the year. The information will be passed on and agreed with Leeds City Council and the Rangers.
- FGGVW Christmas Cards
Naomi has pictures to look at to decide what needs to go on the next Christmas Card. These will be looked at during the next meeting.
- Volunteers Needed
Each year Avril kindly donates electric and water to clean the bath house for the open heritage day. In return the Group agree to do some work. Volunteers are needed to put in three benches nearby.
- Elaine Hill Leaving
Elaine Hill is leaving in March and would like to see everyone at a leaving do to be confirmed.
11. Dates of Next Meetings
- Action Morning - Sun 22 Feb 2015
- Core Group Meeting - Mon 16 Mar 2015 (Gledhow Sports & Social Club)
- Action Morning - Sun 22 Mar 2015
- Action Morning - Sat 11 Apr 2015