Brian wrote (17 Feb 2014):
"Does anyone share my view that the “tidying up” of Bushwood has gone too far? The area is getting flatter and more open almost by the week. An “insider” tells me that the aim is to make the paths in the forest less muddy. I don’t understand why getting rid of every scrap of undergrowth will achieve this and even if it did, is the domestication of the forest and the creation of yet another park much of a trade off for Bushwood’s natural look? If the forest is opened up much more, there will be no need for paths, muddy or otherwise."
Well, I don't recognise that description at all - although it's worth noting that the woodland is possibly at its very barest right now. Nevertheless, Brian's concerns are certainly legitimate ones. However, I should be able to reassure anyone with similar misgivings.
Firstly, everything we do (and will do) is closely supervised by a supportive Forest Keeper, who has attended every work party, and makes sure everything we do is in line with the detailed Management Plan for the area. We also readily take advice from members of Friends of Epping Forest (including personal advice from one of the verderers ), from Friends of Wanstead Parklands (Dwight, their Chair, is one of our members) and from the Wren Conservation Group (who have not been shy in reining in our enthusiasm while working with us!).
It's important to recognise that this land has always been managed. It was largely laid out as 'ornamental' woodland as part of the Wanstead House estate around 300 years ago. Photos of Evelyn's Avenue dating from the turn of the 20th Century show it still relatively manicured, and until 1998 cattle kept back much of the understory that we've been hacking about recently. We are the new cows!
The aims of the "Friends of Bush Wood" (http://FOBW.net) are three-fold:
I'd have to say that should those objectives ever conflict, my own priority would be the last of these.
FOBW is not by any means a closed group: members decided at the outset that it would be open to anyone with a legitimate interest in Bush Wood (so my notion of calling it the "BARA Machete Club" was quickly discarded). It's a "no guilt" group, so anyone with an interest is welcome to join in discussions without feeling obliged to do physical work. We'll have periodic meetings (one quite soon TBA) to discuss what should be done, and how. I'd encourage Brian, Brian's "insider" (?), and anyone at all with an interest to let me have contact details so that I can make sure you're kept properly up to date, and have an opportunity to influence what's done.
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