Not a Happy New Year for Piles Coppice

News from Ann Wilson, Coventry Tree Warden Network (courtesy of CAN Newsletter)

Thanks to the intervention of our MP we managed to have a virtual meeting with the Forestry Commission and we are very sorry to have to tell you that we learned that they have issued a felling licence for trees in our beautiful wood.

Despite all the concerns we have raised and the evidence provided by our surveys and that of the Oxford woodland expert, that recommends no more intervention than in the last 30 years, they have given the go-ahead for areas of both felling and clearance.

We appreciate that the Commission has advised reducing the level of felling that was originally planned and we are told that it is now just for a trial, but no clear reasons are given for the proposals and we maintain that any intervention will destroy the habitat of very rare wildlife. The revisions apparently meet Forestry Standards, but we fail to see how felling cannot adversely affect both the biodiversity and community importance of this much loved urban wood.

The Wildlife Trust included us in the original ‘Stakeholders’ consultation, but we knew nothing of these proposed changes, so we have been given no opportunity to comment on them. Their decision seems to have been based on general advice from people who have never actually seen Piles Coppice. We do not think this wood should be compared with any others, but should be preserved as the unique phenomenon it has become.

We believe that the standards to which they are working were designed for timber production, are very outdated and do not take into account the incredible importance of current issues relating to Climate Change and Extinction and the desperate need to preserve mature trees. Recent evidence also shows the remarkable success story for wildlife in woods allowed to naturalise and spread without intervention.

We were advised of the Forestry Commission decision in the very same week that it was announced how much woodlands save the NHS in mental health costs.

We are still of the opinion that Piles Coppice has so many benefits for the wildlife that live in it and especially for us, the people who use it to keep us happy and healthy, it should be left exactly as it is.

Coventry Tree Warden Network is part of the Tree Council’s Tree Warden Scheme and works with the local Council to encourage as many people as possible to become involved with planting, caring for and enjoying trees and woods.

Update from Ann Wilson from the latest CAN newsletter:

Piles Coppice and the latest update, you will know that we believe that the Forestry Commission are planning to allow some felling and clearance in the wood. This despite copious objections, some of which have come from highly respected experts. We cannot understand the reasoning behind wanting to fell rare trees that are supporting extremely rare wildlife. Our thanks to all for your support, for your concerns and suggestions and for the extra signatures.

Your objections have been added not just to ours and the woodland expert’s, but to those of local ecologists, bird experts, moth experts, fungi experts, tree experts, environmental and climate experts, members of the Ancient Tree Forum and Warwickshire CPRE.

So the level of concern is by no means insignificant and we cannot understand why no-one seems to be listening. The rare trees that are under threat are providing habitat that supports not only endangered species, including Red-Listed birds, Red Data Book Moths and very rare fungi, but also most of the other flora and fauna you would hope to find in an ancient woodland. There are other rarities that you might not expect to find like wild honey bees and the surviving Elms. What does it take to get the Trusts to leave this one small bit of woodland to Nature when she is doing such a fantastic job?

We soldier on, Coventry Tree Warden Network

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