The end of an era and the birth of Forest Nature.
By mid-2007 it was becoming apparent that the Society was in serious trouble. Many of the old members had died or moved away and were not being replaced. Attendance at meetings in the Spring of 2007 were well down (in some cases only nine members attending much to the embarrassment both of the Society and the speaker).
Subscriptions were down but there was a relentless rise in the cost of hiring a room for the evening and speakers costs were also rising. It became apparent that the Society did not have sufficient finances to cover the cost of room and speakers for the coming year. The situation was not helped by the resignation and apathy of some of the older members who thought that the Society had its day and should be allowed to die quietly.
As I had put myself forward for the post of Chairman with the aim of keeping the Society going this was not the point of view that I subscribed to and I did not want to be the Chairman who supervised over the demise of a society which had been in existence since 1935 and for which I felt still had a lot going for it. I also felt strongly that there should be representation for natural history and wildlife in our home area as recognised by PBM Allan back in 1935.
Through my contacts with Hatfield Forest and the Coppicing Volunteers, I was voicing these thoughts to Ade Clarke, then Property Manager. He immediately suggested that we use the Education Room at the Shell House free of charge to hold our meetings. It had always been a private dream of mine to be able to organise something like this and I jumped at the chance.
Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was not initially reciprocated by members of the society who pointed out that there was quite a lot of difference between attending a meeting in the middle of Bishop’s Stortford and driving through Hatfield Forest to the Shell House in pitch darkness. A revised suggestion saw us being offered the Meeting Room at the Office Block instead.
A few quick contacts to other Natural History Societies in the area quickly reinforced the view that to be offered free meeting facilities on a National Trust property which is also a National Nature Reserve is something that they would give their eye teeth for. Even so, the idea had to be sold and sadly some of the older members were lost. Nevertheless, the Society moved to its new base in Hatfield Forest early in 2008.
Whilst on the forest it was agreed that we should call ourselves “Forest Nature” and we designed a new logo to be used on posters accordingly. To my relief the move resulted in a whole cohort of new members to the extent that some of the first meetings were embarrassing in as much as we could not fit everyone into the Meetings Room.
A series of activities and surveys were planned on the Forest including a Dormouse nest box survey, using bat detectors to search for the Barbastelle Bat, using thermal imaging devices in the deer survey and doing various pieces of monitoring such as the Big Forest Bird Watch and pond dipping in the Lake.
The Society remains indebted to the National Trust for our continued survival as an expression of our gratitude we have financed the building of a Kingfisher Nest Bank on the shore of Lake and recently made a large contribution towards the purchase of a new Tern raft on the Lake. Activities, meetings and events continue to the present day and we hope this is a relationship which will long endure.
|Old Woman's Weaver|
|Pishiobury Park Bats|
|Forest Bird Watch|
|Breeding birds survey 2015|
|Over the Farm Gate|
|Records & sightings|