.The Gaia Trust planted 420 native broadleaved trees over three days at Treraven Farm. The small trees are no bigger than 60 centimetres tall and are protected by tree tubes, but in a decade or so we hope they will be perhaps 150 centimetres tall and beginning to look like 'real trees'.
As they grow, the trees will provide habitat and food for a range of birds and insects, and will lock up carbon to help address the climate crisis. Our small woodland is part of a bigger 'Forest For Cornwall' that aims to plant 8000hectares of new woodland in Cornwall by 2030.
This project was supported by Tevi and the Woodland Trust
We have just approved the upgrade of Bodwannick Manor Farm's electricity supply from single phase to 3 phase. This is a key part of our plans to restore the site as a hub for health and wellbeing activities in nature and will allow us to integrate solar panels in future. We hope the work will begin this spring as part of a wider programme that will see the conversion of an existing stone barn to a volunteer shelter with toilets and a shower connected to mains water.
We hope to have completed all this work in the Autumn so that volunteers can work in the tranquil gardens. Interested? Please contact us
The Gaia Trust has recently received approval for a new, five year, Higher Level Countryside Stewardship Agreement for Chark Moor.
Chark Moor covers approximately 12ha of low-lying ground between two spurs. Most of it is wet woodland but there is also about 2.5ha of wet, unimproved grassland. It is part of the Mid Cornwall Moors Site of Special Scientific Interest and is being managed to encourage the re-colonisation of the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly (Euphydryas aurinia).
The vision underlying the Agreement is to extend the existing area of open grassland at the expense of invading scrub/woodland, manage the open grassland to increase floral diversity and to increase public access/engagement. Management measures therefore focus on improving the existing species rich grassland by winter grazing (using rare breeds like the Belted Galloway Cattle on site shown above), scrub control/eradication & educational access.
The agreement includes significant capital investment (fencing/gates) to eventually allow the removal of some of the woodland from areas at the west of the site that were previously grassland in the 1990s, and the recommencement of grazing. However, those activities aren’t included in this Agreement.
The other big news is that the Agreement includes a sum to build a raised boardwalk and viewing platform at the site with associated interpretation. This will allow for educational access to the site and the Gaia Trust is very keen to hear from schools, colleges or any other group that is interested in visiting the site.
Work to demolish the old barns at Bodwannick Manor Farm is progressing well. They are over forty years old and are no longer adequate for stock housing and their demolition clears the way for a new stock barn to be erected.
The removal of these old barns is also part of the site plan to create a health and wellbeing hub on the site. Without them we will be able to put the old stone barn that is now being revealed on the market and put the funds raised towards to the restoration and re-purposing of other buildings on the site.
Utmost care is being taken during the demolition to separate recyclable materials; primarily wood and metal, from non recyclable and haxardous waste like the asbestos roof panels. They will be sent to specialised landfill.
Over the last six weeks, Richard at Treraven Farm has been clearing a large patch of brambles ready for new native trees to be planted this Autumn. It has been hard work as the brambles were extremely thik but luckily we were able to use new equipment brought for the purpose thanks to a grant from the Cornwall TEVI project. We have also been able to use Tafi, the small tractor owned by the Camel Community Supported Agriculture group who have set up beside the car park. You can see a short video of Richard's hardwork here https://youtu.be/mpFG_gwcVmE
The new trees that will be planted this Autumn have been supplied by the Woodland Trust and will create new woodland habitat an, over time, will absorb the carbon footprint of 20 people at current average per person rate of carbon emmissions in Cornwall.
The Gaia Trust's application for a new Countryside Stewardship Agreement at Treraven has been approved and begins on January 1st 2020.
Matt Edworthy, the Gaia Trust's Director says "we are delighted with this news and can begin to implement our plans which will allow us to improve our soils, create more valuable wildlife habitat and continue delivering access and education for the public, whilst still productively farming".
Key elements of he Agreement are grass and herb rich leys that improve soil condition and pasture habitat for wildlife, field corners taken out of management, low input grasslands and leaving rye grass to seed as over wintering food for birds. We will continue our hedge management, but also lay some stretches and repair some of the traditional stone faced hedge banks.
In March, Sam, William and Peter Hodge, the tenant farmers for the Gaia Trust at Treraven, joined Richard and Matt from Gaia to visit Martin Howard's farm near Launceston.
The visit was organised through the UK Farmer Group Discussion Network (thanks to Kate and Alex from the University of Exeter for making the arrangements) so that we could see how Martin has used grass and herb rich leys on his farm.
It was an excellent day and we learned how Martin's herb-rich pastures support cattle health, improve soil structure and water penetration, carbon and humic content and soil micro-organisms. In the summer, when they are left to grow long, their flowers provide valuable habitat and food for a variety of insects that are uncommon and declining on rye grass dominated, artificially fertlised 'intesive' pasture.
The Gaia Trust is thinking about including herb and legume rich leys in our management of our Treraven farm Nature Reserve near Wadebridge from 2020.
In December 2018 a drone flew over Chark Moor so that we can monitor the effects of our scrub management work on the site. The drone flies a pre-determined grid pattern at a set altitude and takes over one hundred downward photographs. These are then 'stitched together' using special software to create a detailed composite image with a resolution of about 1 metre.
Matched to drone pictures that we took in 2016, we can monitor how all of Chark Moor is changing with time and as a result of Gaia's careful Stewardship
Here are some excellent pictures from a volunteer task to clear bramble, willow and tamarisk from the reedbed at Home Farm Marsh in late December 2018. A great way to shift post-Christmas calories.
Our volunteers were ably assisted by Pete from Falcon Tree Services with his chainsaw, who gave his time for free. Together Pete and the volunteers cut, removed and burned many tons of wood, but there are still 5 or 6 tons remaining to be moved.