Countrycare wins 2 living landscapes awards

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Our countryside, Out and about

Living Landscape awards
Epping Forest District Council’s Countryside Management Service Countrycare was presented with 2 Living Landscape Awards at the Essex Wildlife Trust’s AGM on Saturday 23 June, held at Abberton Reservoir Nature Reserve.

The award was presented by Professor Chris Baines, president of the Essex Wildlife Trust, to Countrycare staff Nicola Rogers and Kevin Mason in front of 700 members of the Trust.   

The Wildlife Trust for the first time this year is offering a Living Landscapes project award to recognise publicly any organisation, individual, business or group in Essex completing a project within the county. A Living Landscape is a national initiative led by the Wildlife Trusts, which enhances wildlife and creates a landscape which enables species and people to move through a wildlife-rich landscape.

10 awards were made for the year 2011/12 in Essex and Countrycare received 2 of them. Epping Forest District Council was the only council in Essex to receive an award and the only organisation to receive 2 awards.

The award is given taking into account how the project is good for wildlife, good for people and the community and good for the local economy.

Nicola’s project was for green hay strewning on Linders Field Local Nature Reserve in Buckhurst Hill. The technique of green hay strewning is used to enhance the floral diversity of a grassland site that is poor in terms of wildflowers. The grassland in Linders Field was currently poor in terms of wildflowers but the nearby site at Roding Valley Meadows LNR is species rich. The grass at Linders Field was cut and the site scarified to create bare patches. The Roding Valley flower meadow was also cut and on the same day the cuttings were transported to Linders Field and spread over the site so that seeds from the Roding Valley wildflower meadow would germinate at Linders Field.
Kevin’s project involved the work that has been carried out on Weald Common Local Nature Reserve.  An enclosed meadow was created by planting hedgerows around the boundary and across the Common. Once the hedgerow plants were tall enough, traditional management of the hedges took place in laying the trees to create a thick hedge, a good habitat for wildlife. The enclosed meadow created a sheltered spot for wildflowers to thrive and the hedgerows provide plenty of habitat for nesting birds. 

The judges commented on the Weald Common project saying: “With regards to your application, we would like to congratulate you on your fantastic project, of all the applications yours was the only one that did not have any comments about potential improvements.”

Fishing permit roding valley lake

Written on . Posted in Community, Countryside and wildlife, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Sports, Your area

A new fishing permit is now operating at Epping Forest District Council’s Roding Valley Lake.

The lake, which is situated in the pleasant surroundings of the Roding Valley recreation area, is very popular with anglers.  The permit is in the form of a fishing agreement assigned to Roding Valley Angling Club and fishing will only be permitted by holders of valid day or season tickets. It is hoped that the partnership of the Council and the club will enable the area to be enjoyed by all of the community, whatever their fishing capabilities.

All anglers who come to the lake to fish must abide by Thames Water Authority and Epping Forest District Council by-laws.  In addition, as the area is home to a variety of fauna and flora, anglers are also asked to treat the environment with special care.

Tickets can be obtained from designated bailiffs, who can be seen patrolling the area.  They carry identification cards and those buying tickets are encouraged to ask to see this.

For further information, please contact Darren Jennings on 07716061273 or Richard Marshall on 07778474518 email or, Epping Forest District Council on 01992 564562 during office hours.

Horse chestnut tree surveying started

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes, Your environment

Horse Chestnut tree leaf under attack by Leaf Minor
In order to assess what is happening to the Horse Chestnut trees in the district, the Epping Forest District Council’s tree wardens have registered with the Conker Tree Science project to undertake a survey of the trees in their area.

The Conker Tree Science project is run jointly by the Universities of Hull and Bristol together with the National Environment Research council, and is looking into the effects of an alien leaf mining moth (Cameraria ohridella), which turns the leaves brown by the middle of summer and causes significant damage to the appearance of the trees.

Alien species are thought to be those not normally found in a particular area or habitat. The moth’s caterpillars eat the leaves from the inside and infected trees are weakened, producing smaller conkers.

Many of the invading moths are killed by natural pest controllers in the form of other tiny insects. These insects lay their eggs inside the caterpillars of the leaf-mining moths and when the eggs hatch, the larvae slowly eat the caterpillars, eventually killing them.

The research is looking into the effects of the moths on Horse Chestnut trees and if there is any long-term damage to the trees.

For more information:

Conker tree science website

On Wednesday 23 May, Epping Forest Countrycare Countryside Assistant Kevin Mason and Melinda Barham the Council’s Trees and Landscape Officer showed the Tree Wardens what to look for by surveying and recording 20 trees along Buckhurst Hill High Road and the adjacent churchyard. The findings were that the moths are active particularly in the churchyard and that most of the trees have other problems as well.

The science project proper starts on 15 June, by which time the affected leaves may have started to turn brown and the recordings note the extent of the damage to the leaves.

There is a follow-up during the week commencing 3 July collecting a leaflet from each tree to see if any of the pest controllers are active in the leaves.

Join our woodland walk and mothing events

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Countrycare, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your environment

A guided walk through ancient woodland and a ‘mothing’ night are just 2 events in the coming weeks run by Countrycare.

Ancient woodland walk
On Sunday 29 April 2012 Countrycare are holding an ancient woodland walk in Lambourne. Join the team on a guided walk to discover the ancient green lanes, hedgerows and woodlands of Lambourne. You will be shown how Countrycare manages the woodlands and the results of their hedgelaying toils, taking in superb views and looking at the wildflowers found the woodland.

The walk starts at 10 am and finishes at 3 pm. Wear sturdy shoes and bring a packed lunch. Meet at the Camelot car park in Hainault Forest (opposite the Miller and Carter pub). Grid reference TQ 47805 94364.

Mad about moths
Mad about moths is a nocturnal wildlife event on Friday 11 May 2012 at the Linder’s Field local nature reserve in Buckhurst Hill. The night goes from 9 pm until late and will include mothing, bat detecting and newt identification.

The Countrycare team will provide hot drinks to keep warm but you must bring warm clothes, suitable footwear and a torch. Meet at the Linder’s Field LNR, Roebuck Lane, Buckhurst Hill. Grid reference TQ 41440 94434.

If you need any more information email or telephone 01992 788203 or our mobile number 07789 372222.

Loughton trees in winter walk

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment

Epping Forest Countrycare, in conjunction with the Friends of Epping Forest, organised a walk along the ridge on the North West side of Loughton through the conservation areas known as “Little Cornwall” on 7 February 2012. A total of 21 people braved the cold and snowy conditions and were rewarded with a crisp sunny day and clear blue skies. The walk was led by local naturalist Tricia Moxey and Kevin Mason from Countrycare.

The walk started from Baldwins Hill Green where the opportunity was taken to look at the two large oak pollards at the top of the hill. Tricia explained the significance of the trees to the local landscape, and Kevin explained about the favourite trees database and how trees within the district are recorded.

The walk then went south along Baldwins Hill to Ash Green the former residence of William Chapman Waller, writer in 1900, of Loughton in Essex. The book is a definitive history of Loughton from earliest times. Explanation was given of Wallers Hoppit part of the garden of Ash Green which was sold for development in the 1970s. A hoppit meaning an enclosure or paddock.

From Baldwins Hill the walk went into York Hill bounded by high holly hedges until we reached the green in front of the Gardener’s Arms. The opportunity was taken to admire the view and learn about the history of the buildings and the conservation aspect of the area.

Turning to the right the walk then went along Woodberry Hill passing the site of the old Loughton Pottery and some fine trees, especially a large Black Cedar in the garden of number three.  At the end of Woodberry Hill the road ends at Loughton Lodge which is opposite Drummaids a local scenic spot with fine views looking down on the trees. We then retraced our steps taking a route into the forest passing Dryads Hall, formerly the home of the Silberrad family.

Once past the hall the path went downhill, we looked for signs of an old path which linked up with the Clay ride through the forest without having to go down hill. It is shown on maps from the 1950’s but has long since become overgrown and disappeared.

In the forest Tricia gave an explanation of the management of the Hornbeam and Beech pollards in the area explaining that they have become very top heavy and will in time topple over. We climbed back up the hill to finish the walk in bright sunshine at the top of the Clay ride. Although much of the recent snow had thawed, there was a little lingering in places and this added an extra dimension to the silhouettes of the trees encountered on the route and we all benefitted from our exposure to the sun and the calming influence of the trees!

One of the walkers commented at the end. Thank you so much, It was a particularly nice walk, and it just goes to show that a walk doesn’t have to lengthy or hard-paced to be very rewarding!

Allotment cleared to create wildlife habitat

Written on . Posted in Chairman, Countrycare, Loughton, Our countryside, Your area

On a very cold Saturday morning, 11 February 2012, the overgrown former allotment site in Willingale Road Loughton, was given some well needed attention. Some of the bramble was cleared to create a habitat for wildlife, promote wildflowers and release the trees from entanglement.

The work was led by the Epping Forest District Council’s Countryside Manager Abigail Oldham and Assistant Kevin Mason, along with members of Loughton Town Council, Paul Hoy and Councillor Stephen Pewsey, a number of local volunteers and recruits from the Harlow community payback group.

Three areas of bramble were worked on creating a more open aspect to the site. A large cooking apple tree was freed from bramble and is now a feature in the centre of the site. Several other trees which were being smothered were haloed.

The bramble was cut using hand tools and mechanical means then burnt on a small fire which was very welcome on a particularly cold day.

The volunteers and staff were pleased to be joined at lunchtime by Chairman of the Council Ken Angold-Stephens who gave encouragement to those involved in the clearance work said: “There is much more to be done on the site but a lot of clearance was completed on the day and we definitely made a difference”.


Help wanted to plant disease resistant elm tree

Written on . Posted in Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your community

Published on 9 January 2012

We are looking for volunteers to join us in planting a 10ft disease resistant elm tree at the newly opened Bobbingworth Nature Reserve in Moreton.

 The Countrycare Team from Epping Forest District Council with members of the volunteer group will be planting the elm tree on the viewing point at the nature reserve on Tuesday 24 January 2012. They will also be making compost bins and cutting and raking in between some of the trees.

If you wish to join them please call 01992 788203 for details and to book a place. Meeting at 10am at the car park on Moreton Bridge Road, you will need to bring sturdy shoes and a packed lunch. Tea and biscuits will be provided.

Volunteering with us is a great way to learn more about trees. You will get practical hands on experience and improve your health and wellbeing as well as meeting new people and having fun!

Bobbingworth nature reserve officially opened

Learn about conservation with Countrycare

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Residents, Your community

Celebrating 25years CountrycareWould you like to experience the wonderful countryside of the Epping Forest district while learning conservation and countryside management skills?

If the answer is yes come along to ‘Try your hand day’ and ‘Unto the fields’ – 2 events celebrating 25 years of Epping Forest Countrycare.

Try your hand day – 17 September 2011, Chigwell

‘Try your hand day’ is about conservation volunteering. Join Countrycare for a morning of practical conservation work at Chigwell Row Wood Local Nature Reserve on Saturday 17 September. Learn countryside management techniques and see how this benefits the wildlife of this ancient woodland. The event is from 10am to 1pm and is open to everyone over 16 years old.

Unto the fields Autumn Fayre – 1 October 2011, Loughton

‘Unto the fields’ is an Autumn Fayre on Saturday 1 October at the Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve in Loughton. This informative and fun day out includes tours of the site, bug hunting and conservation activities such as hedgelaying demonstrations. There will also be tractor rides, archery, dog agility, ferret roulette, a welly throwing competition and the big draw! Admission is free but some activities may have a small charge.

The event runs from 11am to 4pm and is run in association with the Essex Wildlife Trust and with the CBBCs D.S.I. – Deadly Scene Investigation.

Entertainment will be provided by the Forest Fiddlers with refreshments by Naked Sausage. The Countrycare Team hopes to raise awareness of conservation issues and involve local communities in its work.

For more information and to book a place on ‘Try your hand day’, contact Countrycare by telephone on 01992 788203 or by email to

Walks ‘n’ talks to celebrate Countrycare Anniversary

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Our countryside, Out and about

To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Council’s Countryside Service, Countrycare have organised various events throughout the year.

On Monday 18 July 2011 Countrycare organised an event that was hosted by the Epping Forest Council tree wardens and the City of London Corporation tree wardens in Epping Forest.

The day started at Warren House in the City of London Grounds on Epping New Road, with introductions from Kevin Mason tree warden officer for the council and Martin Whitfield volunteer manager for the City of London.

The tree wardens were then given a very interesting lecture on the history of pollarding in Epping Forest by Dr. Jeremy Dagley, Senior Ecologist for the City of London Corporation. Time was allowed for a question and answer session which Dr. Dagley answered in a most informative manner.

The tree wardens were then taken by minibus and land rover to High Beech to look at the work being carried out to restore some of the old oak and beech pollards in the forest. An explanation of the work being carried out was given by forest ecologist Andy Froud
Whilst there, the opportunity was taken to look at a large very old beech tree which was estimated as being at least 400 years old.

[flickr set = ‘72157627222855729’]

On Saturday 16 July 2011 Countrycare, organised guided walk from Epping Upland through to Nazeingwood Common, re-created one of the first country walks mapped by Countrycare and the first footpaths worked on, back in 1986.

The walk was led by Countryside Manager Abigail Oldham, who pointed out the natural history and wildlife aspects along the route, and Kevin Mason, who provided historical information.

The walk started along Epping Long Green West under threatening skies. This ancient drovers’ route along the ridge of Nazeingwood Common led to Copywood Field, a Local Wildlife Site managed by Countrycare. The site has recently had its annual grass cut to encourage wildflowers. The grassland has only survived because of its small size and contains many grassy hummocks created by Yellow Meadow ants.

Alongside Copywood field is Copy Wood, another Local Wildlife Site, notable for a large pear tree some mature elm trees, hornbeam and field maple coppice and a very large veteran Oak pollard which the walkers stopped and admired.

Leaving the wood behind, the route went down the fairly steep hill to Common Road, up Back Lane and across the fields in front of Nazeing Park. A stop was made here to explain the history of Nazeing Park. It was built in 1796 by William Palmer and he used his powers as a magistrate to divert the road so that traffic now uses Common road as the house was once located on the main road. Once through Nazeing Park we stopped to look at the old post office building and the historic buildings in Upper Nazeing.

At this point we arrived at Nazeing Triangle one of the Epping Forest District’s Local Nature Reserves. Managed by the Countrycare team, this year it has a large amount of water in the recently excavated pond. The plan was to have refreshments and a wildflower identification session but the heavens opened so the walkers moved on quickly.

Turning east across the fields we reached The Sun public house, we then crossed Common Road taking the recently mown bridle path from Harknett’s Gate onto Nazeingwood Common itself.

We crossed the common, passed Lodge Farm and up the hill to the journey’s end at the Travellers Friend, which was a welcome sight for the very wet walkers. The route was a total distance of about 4 miles which took 2 ½ hours to complete.

Bobbingworth nature reserve officially opened

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Your area

Bobbingworth Nature Reserve was officially opened by Chairman of Council Council Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens and Portfolio Holder for Environment Councillor John Knapman. The former gravel extraction and then landfill site has been totally transformed and is now an open space for everyone to enjoy.


Chairman of Council Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens said: “Many species of wildlife have already taken up residence here and the whole site looks fantastic. I was particularly impressed by the lengths gone to, to develop wildlife habitat for slow worms, beetles and reptiles, and the landscaping of the site including incorporating so many native tree and shrub species including a oak, ash and hornbeam, an emblematic species of our District. It will also be interesting to see if the disease resistant variety of elm survives in the long term too as we lost so many to disease some years ago I would urge everyone to come and see what has been achieved through the dedication and commitment of so many people.”

Portfolio Holder for Environment Councillor John Knapman said: “I am delighted that this site is now fully restored and open to the public. The site is hardly recognisable as the one where work started on this project back in 2007. It really is a wonderful resource for local people as well as those from further afield.”

[flickr set = ‘72157627176603618’]

Donald MacPhail, Regional Director of Veolia Environmental Services, the Council’s contractor for the restoration work said: “This is a key example of how a landfill can be transformed into a site of natural beauty. As a company we pride ourselves in encouraging biodiversity in unusual locations and this is another example of our work in practice”.

The Council’s contractor Veolia will be managing and maintaining the site for the next seven years. During this time, as well as ensuring the design is working, they will be working closely with officers from the engineering , drainage and water team and the Council’s Countrycare Service in trying to create a biodiversity resource with wetlands, a wildflower meadow, copses and hedgerows.

Over 5,000 native trees have been planted as part of the restoration scheme in order to offset the carbon footprint of the project; each tree is expected to absorb over 1 tonne of carbon dioxide over a 100-year lifetime.