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Visitor weblog – Saving Useless Wooden (2) by Les Wallace – Mark Avery



Who I’m – Scottish with a fascination for wildlife from childhood – in lieu of formal {qualifications} (and never having the ability to flash them about!) – was on the 1990 Worldwide Youth Conservation Trade to Hungary, was the 1993 winner of the BBC Wildlife Journal ‘Realms of the Russian Bear’ competitors and spent practically two weeks within the Aksu Zhabagly Reserve in Kazakhstan because the prize – discovered the native abdomen bug was far more harmful than the brown bears. Particularly within the elimination of invasive non native vegetation and conservation of useless wooden and timber and related fauna/flora as conservation points – my private expertise suggests they’re badly uncared for subjects. My important background is in recycling and waste discount.

Les’s earlier visitor blogs right here had been in September 2018, Pushed Grouse Capturing – your bluff’s been referred to as, in February 2021 Jagged Ends,  Blue Frogs and Scimitar Cats and Saving Useless Wooden (1) each in August this 12 months.


Saving Useless Wooden Half 1 seemed on the triple whammy that hits it in public woodlands by means of failings within the present public session course of, a dislike and even repugnance a proportion of the general public has for it, and conservation organisations being very poor in selling the ecological worth of useless wooden typically. It’s due to this fact often eliminated, at worst to be burnt in situ or in a range or at very poor greatest stacked beneath a bush someplace out of sight to supply some, if in all probability diminished, worth for natural world. This severely compromises the wildlife worth of our woodland, similtaneously our space of native tree cowl expands its ecological operate and biodiversity declines, increasingly more younger timber, much less and fewer woodland with useless wooden – wildlife continues its downward spiral.

Standing useless wooden like this outdated birch offers a special habitat from free horizontal useless wooden Its extra uncovered due to this fact hotter and drier for invertebrates and a few species like as right here bracket fungus nearly actually birch polypore Pipoporus betulinus solely develop on upright useless wooden It additionally offers infinitely higher and safer roost nesting and hibernation websites for invertebrates birds and bats than if it had been mendacity on the bottom Sadly useless timber are extremely conspicuous and often the primary and largest victims of anti useless wooden prejudices and ignorance

Worst affected of all are in fact useless timber, standing useless wooden. By way of distinction with adjoining reside timber extraordinarily conspicuous, if something much more so when standing alone. There’s no method we will fake they’re not there. When most voices in a public session say useless wooden is ugly, at the least free useless wooden will be moved the place it gained’t be seen, however useless timber have to return down and that’s very unhealthy information for the fungi, lichens and beetles that particularly want standing useless wooden which is drier and hotter than the horizontal selection. Though woodpeckers can feed on the latter they’re not comfy in doing so, they’re designed to feed on vertical constructions. Likewise, whereas a useless tree will be a superb roost for bats, it could be nearly ineffective as such as soon as fallen over or reduce down – then it’s much more accessible for predators however much less accessible for a flying mammal touchdown and taking off.

Chicken and bat containers, synthetic pine marten dens and to a sure extent bug resorts are a bit just like the prefab housing constructed simply after WWII, emergency lodging within the absence of the ‘correct’ form. We’ve an enormous dearth of useless standing wooden and there’s nothing we will substitute for the total vary of ecological niches for both the species that feed upon the assorted parts of it or the invertebrates, birds and mammals that use the unbelievable number of bodily niches from soggy rot holes to gaps behind peeling bark useless timber present for breeding, roost, and hibernation websites. There’s a determined want for extra useless timber, however it takes a really very long time for them to develop, just about mirroring the time taken to achieve maturity. As a substitute as outlined within the earlier visitor weblog useless and dying timber are all too usually the sufferer of warped aesthetic conventions. Placing up a nest field is basically an apology for making a dire wildlife housing disaster, however we have to make full amends beginning by defending useless timber, not vilifying them as an eyesore.

It’s an issue that’s plagued me for years, how can we nip within the bud that kneejerk, uniformed response from many who sees a useless tree as a visible abhorrence that should come down? Info stands might need a restricted position to play in some areas, however expense and common impracticality (susceptibility to vandalism for one factor) signifies that it’s probably not the reply more often than not or place. Placing up a nest field on a conspicuous place on a useless tree would possibly deter individuals from asking for it to be reduce down. Even when it’s too uncovered for use by birds in a reasonably messy and convoluted method the nest field continues to be establishing an affiliation between a useless tree and wildlife in peoples’ minds. It’s hardly academic as such although and though not the worst gimmick on the planet, nonetheless a gimmick. Not the reply, extra an act of desperation.

What could develop into a real and surprisingly efficient a part of the reply had been staring me straight within the face for a lot of months earlier than it lastly occurred to me. I as soon as spent fourteen months working as a Residence Power Advisor on a authorities scheme geared toward lowering family gasoline poverty and carbon emissions. This required going door to door finishing up surveys and giving recommendation. In that point, I should have checked out tons of of home numbers carved into or painted on a bit of wooden produced from a cross part of tree that was hung subsequent to the door. You’ll have seen them your self, mainly what could possibly be referred to as a wood plaque produced from chopping a slice out of a tree trunk. Comparatively easy, and doubtlessly cheap what if as an alternative of home numbers these may carry a concise message and a picture (of the wildlife utilizing useless timber – bats, woodpeckers, and invertebrates) to be put excessive up on useless timber to be conspicuous and out of attain of vandals? They might rot down very slowly over a few years with the tree they’re on and aesthetically being naturalistic, uneven in look would slot in very effectively. Even a sq. piece of planed wooden would appear a little bit misplaced, synthetic and intrusive whereas tough wood plaques would slot in so a lot better visually, and you would tailor the message/picture on every individually relating to the place it’s to go. It’s a quite simple thought that basically ought to’ve occurred to me sooner, however at the least its simplicity could possibly be its power.

Certainly one of Westquarter Wildlife Groups professional useless wooden plaques in its pure habitat doing its job Positively easy in idea simple if you will get the wood discs and somebody is nice with a router so doubtlessly low cost too with sufficient goodwill A number of of those on a useless tree may forestall a tidy sum being spent chopping it down for no higher motive than somebody doesnt like useless timber Value a strive

The issue with concepts is that it takes arduous work and talent to show them into actuality, and due to this fact I used to be stuffed and completely depending on different individuals to take action. On the time I used to be a member of the sadly now defunct, however fantastic whereas it lasted Westquarter Wildlife Group. It had been going for some years earlier than I joined in a decrease revenue space a number of of us had grown up in. It confirmed that pigeonholing pure historical past and conservation as solely a middle-class curiosity and even affectation is a fantasy and a harmful one, nature is free that makes it much more, not much less, necessary for individuals with restricted incomes. It should be mentioned that the assist we obtained from exterior people and organisations due to the place we had been and what we had been making an attempt to do was excellent. It was due to this that when the group determined to pursue this concept, we acquired incredible assist from the beginning.


Sure, the ‘blanks’ we wanted reduce from tree trunks had been theoretically simple, easy issues till you attempt to get your arms on any, we hardly ran our personal sawmill. Fortuitously, an acquaintance at what was then Forestry Fee Scotland supplied some from ongoing forestry operations (no timber had been reduce down particularly for us) which was the essential first step with out which we’d have been caught – so thanks Gordon!! We determined we’d use what’s referred to as a router to carve out wooden to type the message, the identical precept as engraving metallic or glass. Funds supplied by the Nationwide Lottery had been used to purchase one, then buddy and group member Amanda took it upon herself to study to make use of it. She did effectively, the plaque with a woodpecker was I feel a wee masterpiece. As a result of area is restricted on these plaques and utilizing a router time consuming, we took a path that I’m afraid will offend some sensibilities. We used ‘textese’, as an illustration ‘DIS TREE IS GR8 4 WILDLIFE’ – it made life simpler for us and there was some enjoyable available in dreaming up the textual content. It’s optional, English academics would possibly want it was a capital offense if it had been.

Not our greatest professional useless wooden plaque however it serves its function as a prop to assist get the thought throughout when talking to different wildlife lovers at conferences occasions festivals shows and consultations Ive had a number of wee adventures with it through the years

As soon as completed one among our council’s rangers and an assistant helped us safe a few the plaques to useless timber in our native wooden the place they had been conspicuous and protected from vandals. It was a reasonably damp, underwhelming autumn afternoon, however so far as I do know it was technically a world first on the planet of useless wooden conservation, a thought that happy me at the least. We discovered a number of issues the arduous method. Bark peels away from a useless tree and that can occur extra shortly if a relatively heavy plaque is hooked up to it. Sadly, we misplaced our greatest one Amanda’s stunning woodpecker because of that – greatest to connect plaques on to a strong, bark much less a part of the tree. The plaques additionally weathered and darkened shortly so the router ought to have carved out wider channels that might’ve been extra outstanding, and maybe a wee little bit of varnish would possibly’ve helped. There’s additionally nothing stopping having a couple of plaque per tree.

An choice we by no means acquired spherical to making an attempt, however I imagine could possibly be very efficient is getting faculty kids concerned. True utilizing a router and or going up a ladder are in all probability out for them from a H & S perspective, however as soon as it’s defined why useless timber necessary, and what wildlife relies on them, they might actually design and stencil the pictures and messages for use and be in attendance when the plaques are positioned on to the useless tree(s), hopefully with native press in tow. Braying to have useless timber taken down as a result of they’re supposedly ugly when kids have tried to coach their ‘friends’ about their worth to wildlife would feel and look reasonably tawdry – as a result of it could be. Ignoring the ‘morality’ of placing subjective aesthetics earlier than wildlife, and the needs of youngsters to guard it’s the top of selfishness and being naff, not good having it underlined publicly.

So, there we go doubtlessly a quite simple and sensible thought – basically nailing a small piece of wooden to a a lot greater one – that would save a wildlife pleasant useless tree and the time, effort and plenty of cash spent taking it down as a result of somebody says they assume it doesn’t look good. An enormous step ahead from the present…effectively nothing….and a helpful addition to the toolkit conservation organisations use to coach the general public concerning the very important conservation significance of useless wooden. Besides that there isn’t any toolkit for educating the general public about useless wooden.

That’s fairly a powerful and reasonably accusatory assertion so please bear with me some time I attempt to justify it. After a gradual begin giving the conservation of useless wooden the eye it deserves (see earlier weblog ‘Jagged Ends’) many organisations are lastly beginning to do some very superior work, snapping branches off with winches to duplicate how storm harm creates fractured surfaces with niches for invertebrates and fungal spores, translocating useless wooden related species, boring holes in stumps to create rot holes and so forth, and so forth. My goodness that is typically even accompanied by good high quality academic work!

However what’s taking place or reasonably not taking place exterior of those little bubbles referred to as nature reserves? The place’s the high-profile consciousness elevating to get the general public to understand and perceive the position of useless wooden of their native woodlands? We’ve excessive large campaigns to get individuals to plant timber, to the purpose they find yourself getting planted the place they shouldn’t and all too usually too many get planted too shut collectively due to the numbers sport. Technically you’re anticipating much less of individuals by asking them to not dislike useless wooden than you might be by asking them to placed on a pair of wellies and are available out to get muddy sticking in timber on usually reasonably dreary autumn weekends when there’s a lot else, they might do. So, why within the public sphere the deafening silence concerning the conservation worth of useless wooden?

I’ve my very own private concept or extra precisely suspicions why there’s such a obvious anomaly and failure in conservation/public schooling coverage. Nobody is ever more likely to criticise efforts to avoid wasting farmland birds like turtle doves, yellowhammers, and tree sparrows, even the comparatively drab corn bunting continues to be a ‘candy little birdie’. Now examine that with the response you’ll get when you publicise the significance of getting useless timber wherever you might have reside ones, or in waterways or in any habitat in reality. There’ll be a really loud and unfavourable response from a bit of the general public who loath the sight of useless wooden, claiming it’s ugly and even diseased. Sadly, even sick knowledgeable, egocentric, and boastful attitudes someway change into sacrosanct when they’re from ‘the general public’ – clearly non computer to query them, all views MUST be handled with respect, which is definitely ridiculous and really damaging. Solely permitting all to have their say and provides it a good listening to must be necessary, that’s democracy, however so is having the ability to problem it.

In relation to avoiding any negativity to conservation within the public sphere the NGOs appear to be treading on eggshells. Lastly, progress is being made in getting wildflower meadows in additional public areas, flowers are fairly, they usually assist pollinators upon which lots of our crops are dependent – like farmland birds not precisely a tough promote. Nonetheless, lots of those self same pollinators want ‘weeds’ equivalent to bramble, nettle, and dock for his or her larval phases and what number of conservation organisations are calling for the creation and safety of them alongside wildflowers? There’s clearly acceptable and unacceptable nature within the eyes of some, however ecosystems don’t work on that foundation we’d like all of it.

The value for not riling the reactionary is sadly a severely watered-down method that stops a broader vary of the general public getting on our aspect if solely they got the related info. What number of extra individuals would wish to see the rewilding of our over grazed, over burnt tree much less hills in the event that they knew it diminished the possibility of their properties flooding and that their cash is which is subsidising the uneconomic actions heightening flood danger can be so a lot better spent on something and the whole lot from lowering meals waste to the NHS to high school journeys to take care of the aged than conserving hills wildlife poor and flood pleasant? I can’t recall one occasion the place the conservation organisations actually went to city pushing this situation of huge public curiosity. In the event that they haven’t performed so as a result of they wish to carry on good phrases to debate and negotiate with the vested pursuits chargeable for the present state of our uplands, then disgrace on them.

So, what is likely to be a helpful assist in defending useless timber has up to now ten years because the first ones had been put up been just about floating round in limbo not essentially as a failing on its half, however the lack of a correct platform to make use of it. Sadly adjustments in H & S laws meant our unique provide of clean plaques ended in any other case we may have saved making ones to donate to different teams and a few again to Forestry Fee Scotland itself. That would have performed loads to assist, however we may discover no various provide. If that’s the case, we may’ve despatched one right down to Hardcastle Crags a Nationwide Belief property in Yorkshire the place they’re doing glorious work in utilizing useless wooden dams to cut back flooding downhill. On a Countryfile program the presenter requested a employees member the importance of a useless tree left standing. There was no info in situ, so it was defined as a result of it was nice for wildlife. A number of plaques on the tree would have helped get the message throughout when a NT worker wasn’t at hand, and naturally being seen on nationwide tv would’ve demonstrated the worth of the plaques to an unlimited viewers. I’ve contacted them since, however that’s a bit lacklustre whenever you don’t have something bodily to cross on, simply a top level view of the thought.

I do occur to have a spare plaque, however it’s wanted as a prop to advertise the thought at talks, shows, and conferences – just about the one choice left in drumming up any assist for it, that and writing in visitor blogs in fact. At any time when I’m going to a convention, an occasion or outside competition the plaque is often stowed away within the little ex-army rucksack that goes virtually in every single place with me. If I encounter somebody who I feel is likely to be , I’ll present the plaque and provides the background story. This has resulted in a number of pictures being taken so hopefully the message does get throughout typically, however in fairly superior center age it’s unusual to be overtaken by adolescent like shyness and self-consciousness when approaching a whole stranger (on the idea they work for Buglife, the Woodland Belief and so forth I ought to add) eradicating a wood plaque with routered textual content and picture on it pulled from an outdated rucksack, and launching into spiel about the necessity to defend useless timber. It wouldn’t be so unhealthy if the adolescent awkwardness was accompanied by the adolescent flat abdomen, clear complexion, and better power ranges, however sadly sod’s legislation is effectively and actually in operation, and I’m caught with the worst of the younger and outdated fart me. There have been some little adventures and maybe even shut misses although in getting the message out to a wider viewers through the years. The easiest one was after I was invited to a night occasion on the Scottish Parliament celebrating the work of Revive: The Coalition for Grouse Moor Reform three years in the past. The honoured visitor was to be a sure Mr Christopher Gary Packham no much less. This was the golden alternative to get what in advertising they name ‘a product champion’ on board if I used to be very fortunate. So, the plaque went into the outdated ruck sack after which by means of the metallic detector on the safety portal within the entrance of the parliament. I met a number of outdated acquaintances, some new ones I’d solely recognized by means of face guide earlier than and simply earlier than the occasion formally started CP arrived. At one stage I used to be standing about ten inches away from the good man, however it wasn’t a very good time to speak.

His speech was glorious and the following discussions I had with fellow individuals had been completely pleasing, however Chris appeared to have disappeared, I assumed he wasn’t too eager on crowds. Ultimately a bunch of us went away for our personal wee assembly within the pub. It was solely later I discovered Chris had gone off to at least one aspect of the room the place individuals politely approached him to have a fast chat, say hello and thanks for his many efforts on behalf of wildlife. I kicked myself for lacking him, I had desperately wished to thank him for his assist with a petition I’d arrange, and I felt if the thought behind the plaque was bona fide Chris can be a superb decide and if supportive a incredible assist in selling the thought. Within the final collection of Springwatch he actually did increase the difficulty of the conservation worth of useless timber, particularly relating to the lesser noticed woodpecker. After all, he might need informed me it was garbage, however someway I wouldn’t have minded it a lot coming from him.

There was an incident although the place issues did go to plan, fairly superbly in reality and in a method that introduced me unbelievable satisfaction. Within the earlier weblog I wrote at size of my frustrations on the public session course of the place being loud, ignorant, and indignant tends to hold the day reasonably than being conscientious and effectively knowledgeable. I careworn that conservation organisations and wildlife lovers have to be equally assertive and forthright in placing ahead their views and goals – we will’t sit within the nook, wring our arms, and get anyplace. I’m glad to say that for as soon as I’d put my cash the place my mouth, ten years in the past now, the plaque was concerned, and it was bloody nice!

The RSPB had simply obtained three million kilos from the lottery to supervise the Interior Forth Panorama Initiative (I.F.L.I) a multi-year challenge to make each the pure and industrial/historic heritage of the higher Forth estuary extra accessible to all. A wonderful challenge encompassing an terrible lot of habitats, human heritage websites and kindred communities. The RSPB due to this fact embarked upon a collection of public session conferences all through the district making an attempt to achieve as many individuals as doable.

I attended one in late 2012, the RSPB had been welcoming, however as an alternative of placing plans of their very own ahead to ask for suggestions, they outlined the goals of the I.F.L.I within the very broadest sense. This was effectively meant, however I imagine an enormous mistake – it seemed far an excessive amount of like making an attempt to slot in conservation after everyone else had mentioned what they wished, relegation to the margins but once more. The RSPB was entitled to place its plans ahead first then overview responses – that’s what everybody else does together with builders, however someway conservation organisations should do extra. The bar appears to be routinely set greater when defending wildlife is on the playing cards.

After the introduction we had been to separate into dialogue teams on completely different subjects. Not surprisingly I selected the desk on woodlands. A RSPB employees member was allotted to us – all had been extraordinarily pleasant and by no means handed remark or judgement on any response, however dutifully famous them down and thanked the participant for making it. After the staffer launched himself, we had been invited to make feedback. The primary to take action was a person to my speedy proper about the identical age as myself. In a considerably pompous, loud, and indignant voice he introduced “Our woods are untidy!! They have to be tidied up!!” He didn’t specify what he meant by untidy, maybe he was referring to burnt out automobiles, dumped fridges and crisp packets, however I doubt it, I’m certain he would have mentioned so. No this was somebody deeply affronted, offended even as a result of he would go right into a woodland, and it was a woodland not a sterile municipal park. Oh the struggling!!!!!

Proper there after which was the vindication why I used to be sitting on the identical desk with a wood plaque in my rucksack carrying a message to understand what he clearly wished eliminated. After so a few years of frustration on the loud, uninformed, and reactionary scuppering native conservation initiatives right here I lastly was on the proper time and place to counter it for as soon as. I wasn’t one of many RSPB workers who little question needed to chunk their tongues behind mounted smiles, I used to be there as a member of the general public who had as a lot proper to specific their opinion as forthrightly as they wished as anyone else – so I let rip.

I might like to say that what henceforth issued forth from my lips was articulate and eloquent, it wasn’t I used to be too pissed off for that – my excuse anyway. Nonetheless, my irritation did imply the feedback had been delivered in a no-nonsense tone that meant I anticipated to be taken severely. I started by stressing our woodlands will not be parks, individuals who didn’t have the schooling to understand woodlands as wildlife habitat ought to preserve to parks and never inflict their ignorance on the remainder of us (I didn’t have to carry again so I didn’t), numerous individuals don’t even perceive the place their meals comes from so it’s not shocking they don’t perceive why useless wooden and timber are very important parts for woodland wildlife. At this stage I produced the plaque from my rucksack and used it to underline how and why we wanted to coach the general public and particularly kids concerning the ecology of our woodlands not waste scarce sources to ‘tidy them up’. After I’d completed the person who’d made the unique remark – for one factor didn’t declare he’d actually been referring to litter – mentioned completely nothing. I doubt I’d modified his perspective, however his silence was a victory of kinds. It felt nice.

It would sound like I’m making an enormous meal of this one incident, however it’s the feedback just like the one I replied to that time and again have meant small fortunes that would’ve been spent on creating wildlife habitat or environmental schooling have as an alternative been used to ship gangs of chainsaw operators to take away useless timber. For the need of extra proactivity on the a part of our NGOs, and typically the unwillingness of particular person wildlife lovers to exert their rights to push their views as a lot as anybody else, progress for conservation typically is diminished to a snail’s tempo, and useless wooden specifically is being hammered.

I’ve been carrying the plaque round for thus a few years now I’ve began to joke I’m attending to be just like the log girl in Twin Peaks (the ‘log laddie?’). I’m glad to say I don’t have conversations with my piece of wooden…not but at the least. I do, nevertheless, nearly really feel sorry for it – at all times the bridesmaid by no means fairly the bride. If somebody may level out the way it’s an impractical suggestion, a waste of time that must be dropped they’d be doing me a favour. However I can’t see how it’s given the horrible technical inadequacy and lack of dedication there’s inside the mainstream conservation motion in selling inside the public sphere the necessity for useless wooden and timber to be conserved. Easy and fundamental although they’re the plaques are a one thing when now there’s nothing, they could possibly be a part of a future toolkit of measures to assist save useless wooden ought to the NGOs pull their socks up and create one.

In case you’ve managed to learn this far (effectively performed!), as ever I’d be thankful for suggestions and if anybody can safe their very own provide of ‘blanks’, timber introduced down due to ash dieback is likely to be a very good supply (if spreading the illness through them will be prevented), get a router and have a bit extra competence with it than I then there’s nothing stopping you making plaques for useless timber like Westquarter Wildlife Group. The truth is, I’d be completely delighted when you did.





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