'Free firewood at Shotover is barking mad' says wildlife group

Oxford Mail: Ivan Wright, of Shotover Wildlife Ivan Wright, of Shotover Wildlife

A CONSERVATION group says wildlife is being “badly compromised” at an Oxford country park by a council-funded logs for labour scheme.

The Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme sees volunteers clear up dead wood from the city council-owned Shotover Country Park, a nature reserve just outside Headington.

The Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2) says this is beneficial to biodiversity, and volunteers get to take home the wood to use as fuel.

But volunteer conservation group Shotover Wildlife says the cut wood is an important habitat for certain insects.

Chairman Ivan Wright said: “There appears to be no proper assessment of the conservation value of a woodland before trading firewood.”

The Shotover Site of Special Scientific Interest, and Brasenose Wood within the park, said Mr Wright, had rich and nationally significant fauna, with recent and historic records of threatened and vulnerable species.

He said he had discussed his concerns with Oxfordshire forestry charity the Sylva Foundation and TOE2 project manager Riki Therivel last year.

He agreed with both that there was a proportion of species-rich woodlands where the scheme would not be appropriate.

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Mr Wright said: “The management of cut wood should be prioritised towards increasing the alarming shortfall of dead wood in the SSSI and improving the quality of the woodlands for invertebrates.

“The fact is, biodiversity is being very badly compromised at Shotover by the council’s parks department. It is a disgrace.”

TOE2 chairman Karen Woolley said the trust “strongly refuted” the claim that the scheme was damaging woodland.

She said: “Our activities, such as the removal of small trees at Shotover, to encourage the regeneration of the heathland habitat, are fully compliant with Forestry Commission national guidelines.”

Oxford City Council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said wood was removed from the site as part of the heathland management programme and some of it was wood cut under licence several years ago.

She said: “Within Brasenose Woods, our coppice sessions have continued, as they have done for many centuries, practising ancient skills within a modern-day management plan.”

Comments (9)

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12:35pm Fri 28 Feb 14

lozrob says...

Thanks to Ivan Wright, we now all know where to get our supply of firewood from! Sometimes an issue is best left out of the public limelight....
Thanks to Ivan Wright, we now all know where to get our supply of firewood from! Sometimes an issue is best left out of the public limelight.... lozrob
  • Score: 3

12:40pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Floflo says...

lozrob wrote:
Thanks to Ivan Wright, we now all know where to get our supply of firewood from! Sometimes an issue is best left out of the public limelight....
You really need to be told by a newspaper article that if you go to the woods you can find wood to burn?
[quote][p][bold]lozrob[/bold] wrote: Thanks to Ivan Wright, we now all know where to get our supply of firewood from! Sometimes an issue is best left out of the public limelight....[/p][/quote]You really need to be told by a newspaper article that if you go to the woods you can find wood to burn? Floflo
  • Score: 0

1:05pm Fri 28 Feb 14

angelox99 says...

Most people seem to take what they want to burn up to Shotover. For example, cars, beds, sofas etc etc - even stuff that will not burn like Stones, masonry, bricks and more...

If the wood is left there, it just encourages more people to illegally dump things there, not that people need any encouragement!
Most people seem to take what they want to burn up to Shotover. For example, cars, beds, sofas etc etc - even stuff that will not burn like Stones, masonry, bricks and more... If the wood is left there, it just encourages more people to illegally dump things there, not that people need any encouragement! angelox99
  • Score: 1

1:33pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

Perhaps there are simply too many charities/groups involved with this one location?
Perhaps there are simply too many charities/groups involved with this one location? Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

2:32pm Fri 28 Feb 14

MerlinSilver says...

The City Council is slowly destroying this beautiful Nature reserve for a profit making venture..Oak trees are also being felled and oak furniture is very costly....I have enjoyed walking here for decades and can see the destruction being caused by the COMMERCIAL wood fuel programme....I complained to the Forestry commission and they insisted that they did not BACK the logging trees for wood fuel ..so the woodfuel website is fallacious as it alleges it is backed by the Forestry commission..the other bodies cited on the website also denied backing the programme when I rang to complain..poor Ivan Wright, he is a lovely soul..much wronged by the City Council on conservation matters.. he has suffered much abuse when making legitimate complaints
The City Council is slowly destroying this beautiful Nature reserve for a profit making venture..Oak trees are also being felled and oak furniture is very costly....I have enjoyed walking here for decades and can see the destruction being caused by the COMMERCIAL wood fuel programme....I complained to the Forestry commission and they insisted that they did not BACK the logging trees for wood fuel ..so the woodfuel website is fallacious as it alleges it is backed by the Forestry commission..the other bodies cited on the website also denied backing the programme when I rang to complain..poor Ivan Wright, he is a lovely soul..much wronged by the City Council on conservation matters.. he has suffered much abuse when making legitimate complaints MerlinSilver
  • Score: 0

2:33pm Fri 28 Feb 14

MerlinSilver says...

The City Council is slowly destroying this beautiful Nature reserve..I have enjoyed walking here for decades and can see the destruction being caused by the COMMERCIAL wood fuel programme....I complained to the Forestry commission and they insisted that they did not BACK the logging trees for wood fuel ..so the woodfuel website is fallacious
The City Council is slowly destroying this beautiful Nature reserve..I have enjoyed walking here for decades and can see the destruction being caused by the COMMERCIAL wood fuel programme....I complained to the Forestry commission and they insisted that they did not BACK the logging trees for wood fuel ..so the woodfuel website is fallacious MerlinSilver
  • Score: -1

4:25pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Shaun the Faun says...

Shotover has been actively and commercially managed for centuries. It's only in the last several decades that it's largely been left to it's own devices which has meant that many areas have become overgrown with scrub needing the attentions of volunteer groups and the park rangers. In 1363 the going-rate for grazing your pig on fallen acorns was 1/6 pence per pig. People were also charged for collecting dry wood and fallen timber to use as firewood. In 1629 shipwrights visited the forest and earmarked 27,000 trees as being "the best in the kingdom for shipping, both for hardness and toughness". Those straight lines of mature oaks still clearly visible didn't arrange themselves!

As for the previous comment about too many groups involved... (several of whose leaders have, at best a 'difficult' relationship)... nail...head!
Shotover has been actively and commercially managed for centuries. It's only in the last several decades that it's largely been left to it's own devices which has meant that many areas have become overgrown with scrub needing the attentions of volunteer groups and the park rangers. In 1363 the going-rate for grazing your pig on fallen acorns was 1/6 pence per pig. People were also charged for collecting dry wood and fallen timber to use as firewood. In 1629 shipwrights visited the forest and earmarked 27,000 trees as being "the best in the kingdom for shipping, both for hardness and toughness". Those straight lines of mature oaks still clearly visible didn't arrange themselves! As for the previous comment about too many groups involved... (several of whose leaders have, at best a 'difficult' relationship)... nail...head! Shaun the Faun
  • Score: 1

4:42pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Lord Palmerstone says...

The New Forest has hundreds of megawatts of green energy lying about as fallen trees and "Natural England" forbids its use because it's a habitat for insects. The insects will see us out on this planet. They are not an endangered species. But the useless windmills are turning our countryside into an ugly mess. For goodness sake! Let us use green energy, not faff about.
The New Forest has hundreds of megawatts of green energy lying about as fallen trees and "Natural England" forbids its use because it's a habitat for insects. The insects will see us out on this planet. They are not an endangered species. But the useless windmills are turning our countryside into an ugly mess. For goodness sake! Let us use green energy, not faff about. Lord Palmerstone
  • Score: -2

7:00pm Fri 28 Feb 14

King Joke says...

For the first and only time I'm at one with Lord Palmerstone. Coppiced wood IS green energy, no more or less so than wind farms. Keep a corner of the wood for insects if you will. Insects are important of course, but during a hot, wet summer I think you'll find their populations can be very healthy indeed!

As well as cheap fuel for local people, this scheme can aid clearing areas that would otherwise be overgrown, can reduce carbon emissions, and can promote free healthy, worthwhile, outdoor physical activity for young and old alike - supporting their mental health. This sounds like a win-win-win to me!
For the first and only time I'm at one with Lord Palmerstone. Coppiced wood IS green energy, no more or less so than wind farms. Keep a corner of the wood for insects if you will. Insects are important of course, but during a hot, wet summer I think you'll find their populations can be very healthy indeed! As well as cheap fuel for local people, this scheme can aid clearing areas that would otherwise be overgrown, can reduce carbon emissions, and can promote free healthy, worthwhile, outdoor physical activity for young and old alike - supporting their mental health. This sounds like a win-win-win to me! King Joke
  • Score: 1

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