Autumn Conservation Weekend 2021

Autumn Conservation Weekend is a time for exchange: come and nurture the woods and the woods will nurture you. A total of 21 people took part (17 adults and 4 children), with most of us staying for the full two days and two nights, across the first weekend in October. Spending time in this magical woodland environment, helping to look after the trees and the wildlife and then unwinding in the evenings with songs and games around the campfire.

We got so many great tasks completed, including:

– scything, raking and lopping to maintain the North West Frontier glade and other paths

– restocking firewood for the buildings

– giving the bird nest boxes their annual clean

– refilling the Hideaway power cable trench

We also got to see some cool moths and fungi, thanks to our local wildlife recorders!

Mary did an excellent job of planning not only delicious meals, but also reducing the carbon intensity of our food. This includes:

  • Minimal food packaging.
  • Mostly vegan (a small amount of dairy).
  • Most of the veg was allotment surplus or food waste. 
  • Leftovers were used in other meals rather than thrown away.
  • Experiments of cooking on the fire, burning wood from the wood – this worked so well, reducing the amount of gas used (a fossil fuel). It was great fun too!

Simon talked us through the off-grid systems at Hazel Hill Wood. Oli led us in a ‘natural systems design workshop’, helping us to think about our human impact on the environment and how we can leave it richer rather than poorer. Can we turn Hazel Hill into a centre for regenerative practice? 

I enjoyed a digital detox and didn’t touch my phone for most of the weekend – it felt great! As a result, the photos here are not an accurate representation of the whole weekend, but snippets.

Jenny, a regular Autumn Conservation volunteer, says:

“Despite the rain we all got stuck into maintaining the glade and paths through the NW Frontier on Saturday morning. I have a particular fondness for this area of the wood, and returning this autumn I was struck by how much it is starting to look like woodland again – I think the birch and douglas fir enjoyed the wet summer.

“Collecting in and washing out the bird boxes on Sunday was lovely, especially as I’d helped with the same task last year, and fortunately, we didn’t find any dead baby birds in the boxes this year. We had a brilliant crew to do this task – the junior members of the team were excellent at spotting the bird boxes, while the adults did (most of) the ladder climbing. We all admired the artistry of the tit nests and the pragmatic robins’ nests. Once the bird boxes were emptied and sanitised we propped them up to dry outside the Long House in some very welcome sunshine, all ready to be redeployed for a new batch of baby birds in the spring.”

BioBlitz 2022 – our annual 24 hour wildlife survey is another chance to stay at the wood and contribute to valuable conservation work. We’ll record as many species as we can in 24 hours! Keep your eyes peeled for more details and dates, historically it has been at the end of May.

Charley Miller, Conservation & Education Coordinator