It has been a wet winter. Local farmers say they haven’t seen a winter like it. In truth this winter followed a wet summer and a wet autumn. The ground has been sodden for months and rush free pastures are no longer rush free. We are wondering if climate change is partly to blame. Forecasters are predicting that this part of the UK will be wetter in the future. Is this a taste of the future or is it just an anomaly? Nevertheless work on the land at Yewfield goes on.

Gary and his forestry apprentice Will clearing the ground for the new enclosure

We’ve been planting trees in the forest. Along with our local natives we are adding tree varieties not native to this area to diversify. With tree diseases and climate change we need to be thinking about a wider variety of trees as a buffer to future problems, as many of our native trees are succumbing to pests and diseases, some of which have been precipitated by climate change. In fact many European species should be able to fill some of the gaps left behind by the demise of ash, and soon perhaps oak, as many invertebrates are common to us and the continent. Although some invertebrates are specialists many are generalists and will adapt to new food sources if necessary. The term native carries a nationalistic edge to replanting debates. If we want resilient forests for the future we have to be realistic about what will give us multi-purpose woodlands in the future. The trees we are planting that are appropriate to our site such as hornbeam and sycamore are also better for wildlife than previously thought. I have extolled the wildlife virtues of sycamore in previous posts with reservations, the main one being it is too invasive on ancient woodland sites or sites with rich ground vegetation.

There is more on this in a new video that a friend has produced on Sawrey Ground Plantation. Here is the link: till:

By the next post we should hear whether we have qualified for Countryside Stewardship Higher Tier. We shut ourselves up for a few days getting our heads around the many-layered application. We have entered all of our land including the forest. Land that will be managed for conservation will, we hope, post Brexit, qualify for ‘public good’ and therefore qualify for continued government support.

Yewfield's diverse hay meadows qualify for support due to their comparative rarity

As I write this we have had, at long last, a change in the weather and today in the Lake District - a cloudless day. What a treat! The light is lengthening, birds are singing their hearts out as they establish territory and streaks of snow in the high Fell corries beckon. A Siberian cold front has brought in welcome dry cold weather. May it last.

Yewfield in the snow

Lovely as the snow is, we'll be glad to say goodbye to the back-breaking job of clearing the drive!


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