West Stormont Woodland Group

West Stormont
Woodland Group

Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC051682

Join us today to bring Taymount Wood and Five Mile Wood into community ownership

In the Company of Giants

The rusty orange coat of a fox is illuminated in the early morning dappled sunlight. Body primed in eager anticipation, as its acute hearing detects some unseen rodent under the vegetation. A few metres away amongst the fallen dead branches and leaves, the black un-blinking eye of a woodcock watches its every move, poised to escape at the last second from the nest where she is incubating 4 eggs. Her mottled plumage so perfectly in harmony with her surroundings, she is almost invisible even to this supreme hunter.

Suddenly the fox’s unfailing senses detect a walker approaching – soft footed, along a fallen tree. The fox slips effortlessly into the dense undergrowth, as the walker realises the futility of his intent.

The black motionless eye betrays nothing of the fear and panic swelling up within the woodcock’s body, as the man continues his approach. At two metres distance from her, he pauses in response to a pair of blue tits above him loudly protesting his intrusion. Their 6 chicks listen intently from the safety of the nest within an old woodpecker-excavated nest hole in the standing dead Noble fir tree nearby.

Faint Calls from Beneath

As the man graciously yields to the growing protests of the blue tits and attempts to descend from the fallen tree, his eyes rake the ground for hidden hazards – bramble thorn or protruding branch, such is the way with barefoot walkers. Suddenly his eyes connect with the black eye of the woodcock, now a mere step away. He freezes in a mix of surprise and wonderment, before cautiously retreating in an attempt to pacify her. Audible only to she who sits defiantly are the faint calls of her 4 chicks that are now hours away from hatching beneath her.

The man gently eases away to continue his assessment of this secluded woodland section that she has chosen to nest in. A small island of Noble firs in the south-west of Taymount Wood. These majestic fir trees, around 70 years old (still young in tree terms), cover a mere 3% of the woodland, yet their large and prolific seeds may provide up to 20% of available calories for red squirrels and wintering birds. As a species, the Noble firs also sequester more carbon than any other tree species in the wood and are visually striking in the forest landscape. In recent insect surveys they were also found to support substantially higher numbers and species counts of insects per square metre of foliage than other conifers and even outperformed birch by 3 to 1. They also fostered rare and spectacular fungi species. Overall, the Noble fir punches far above its weight in the fight against the climate & ecological crisis.

In the Shadow of the Axe

These Noble firs and hundreds like them across the site are now threatened with felling. They were protected under the original WSWG woodland plan in the Draft WSWG Proposal approved by the community in the WSWG Community Consultation 2021. The updated version of that original plan still protects them for all the reasons explained above, as well as “living forest” revenue including carbon sequestration, tree sponsorships and biodiversity payments etc – potentially up to 3x more than felling them for timber.

However, new members within the group have since 2021 brought a wider perspective which may reflect the view of the wider community. As such, an alternative, more timber-focused woodland plan has been produced which will see almost all of these trees felled over the next 10 years. These two plans have differing priorities and agendas. You, as a WSWG member or a local resident, will soon have the chance to decide the fate of these trees by choosing which plan you prefer, and influence the way we will look after the woods in the future.

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Previous Articles

Community Monthly Update – March 2024

It is a disappointing thing to have to do, but a surprisingly rewarding thing to have done. We are talking about picking up someone else’s litter. We all know Taymount Wood car park occasionally suffers from fly tipping, but it is regular littering which is more of a chronic problem, clogging the ditches, being strewn around the verges, blown into the brambles and nettles, overgrown by rank grass, buried in the soil, or crushed by vehicles if not removed regularly.

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Community Monthly Update – February 2024

First up this month, a big thank you to the Community Payback Team from Westbank in Perth who very kindly made an impromptu stop when passing to remove the worst of some fly tipping they spotted in the Taymount Wood car park in January. A heap of black bin-bags full of spent growing medium and general rubbish had been dumped near the entrance gate a few days earlier. They were unable to clear it all up in one go but are going to come back to complete the task for us. Moreover, they have offered to keep a watching eye on the site in future and clear up what they can. That will be such a help.

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Community Monthly Update – January 2024

Unusually, we’re starting this Monthly Update with a “What’s Coming Up Next” item! This message is principally for people in the Stanley and District community but we’d love to suggest all villages in the West Stormont area follow suit with their own aim of becoming a Biodiversity Village.

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Community Monthly Update – December 2023

It’s another year end and this time WSWG member Françoise from Stanley has created an exquisite 2024 calendar of “Wildflowers and Friends” she photographed in Taymount Wood this year to help raise funds for WSWG. Having gone for a print run of 50, these gorgeous calendars are available on a first-come, first-served basis for a donation of £10 (or a bit more if you wish!) with net proceeds going towards the purchase of the woods.

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Community Monthly Update – November 2023

We are really thrilled to let you know that Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has approved WSWG’s Revised Wildwood Proposal and Business Plan for Taymount Wood. This is the first big goal achieved in our Community Asset Transfer Process to bring Taymount and Five Mile Woods into community ownership!

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Community Monthly Update – October 2023

A highlight for the WSWG Project this month has been the timely teaming up of a group of employees from Aviva in Perth with some unexpectedly lovely autumn weather for a day of corporate volunteering. On 2 October, five enthusiastic Aviva colleagues spent the day with WSWG in the middle of Taymount Wood on a range of interesting and very useful tasks, quite a contrast to their usual office based working environment.

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