Tree Wardens undertake OPAL Tree Health Survey.

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Volunteering opportunities, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The Council’s Tree Wardens have started undertaking the OPAL (OPen Air Laboratories)  survey into the health of the trees in the District.  The survey is being co-ordinated by Imperial College London together with Forest Research and the Food and Environment Research Agency.

Horse Chestnut Tree

With guidance from Tree Warden Co-ordinator Kevin Mason a member of the Countrycare team, nine Tree Wardens attended a training session on 12th June in Roughtalley’s Wood, North Weald.

By taking part in the national survey and submitting the results the Tree Wardens are helping to discover more about the general health of our trees and give vital information on some of the pests and diseases that affect Oak, Ash and Horse Chestnut trees. Instruction was also given on identifying other potential pests and diseases which whilst not present yet, or at least not widespread, could have a serious impact on our trees.  Tree Wardens are part of an important surveillance network of people across the country protecting our trees.

The recordings are used by Forest Research – the Forestry Commission’s research agency.  The results from the survey will show the condition and health of the trees in parks, streets and woodlands across the UK and provide important information about the possible presence of certain key tree pests and diseases.

A national survey like this has not been undertaken before and it is likely that the trees surveyed by the Tree Wardens will not have been surveyed before.

The survey covers the location and species of the tree, its characteristics in relation to the trees around it and its condition; this gives a general picture about the health of the tree. Also covered was up to date information of pests and diseases on three of the most recognisable tree species: Ash, Oak and Horse Chestnut.

Bleeding Canker

 

One of the Horse Chestnuts surveyed by the Tree Wardens was discovered to have Bleeding Canker.  This is a disease caused by a pathogen, Pseudomonas syringae pv aesculi, which infects and disfigures the tree.  If the disease is severe it can kill the tree so it needs to be regularly checked.  Fortunately none of the Ash trees in the wood were found to have.
The Tree Wardens were also shown an unusual Cappadocian Maple (Acer cappadocicum) which is growing in the wood and there is a fine display of Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)growing in the wet grassland area.

Cappadocian maple

 

 To help with the survey please go to http://www.opalexplorenature.org/TreeSurvey
for the full instructions or alternatively contact Kevin Mason at Epping Forest Countrycare on 01992 788203

Countrycare Events For 2013

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Epping, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Countrycare will be running a series of kids events again this spring and summer.

Join Countrycare on one of our Local Nature Reserves and branch out into birds on Roding Valley Meadows, go barmy over bugs at Weald Common or nutty over newts at Nazeing Triangle. Our kids events are aimed at ages 4 to 12, we aim to teach them a little about their surrounding countryside and the wildlife that lives there and have a lot of fun too!

We will be kicking off with an Easter Scavenger Hunt at Roughtalley’s Wood on 3rd April. Find and solve the riddles hidden around the reserve to win some chocolate eggs!

Click Countrycare Events 2013 for a list of all our events in 2013.

Love our British birds on Valentines Day

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment

National Nest Box Week is great for birds. Starting on 14 February, St Valentine’s Day, it’s the time we remind ourselves to provide homes for dozens of species, from Blue Tits to Barn Owls.

Nesting Blue Tit
Nesting Blue Tit

The natural nest sites on which many of our bird species depend, such as holes in trees and buildings, are fast disappearing as gardens and woods are ‘tidied’ and old houses are repaired.

National Nest Box Week was launched in 1997 and since then thousands of enthusiastic naturalists across the UK have put up boxes to compensate for this loss. It is estimated that there are now 5 to 6 million boxes in gardens across the UK.

Whether you’re a family with space for a box in your garden, a teacher, a member of a local wildlife group, or you belong to a bird club and could organise a work party, National Nest Box Week gives you the chance to contribute to the conservation effort in the UK whilst giving you the pleasure of observing any breeding birds that you attract to your garden.

Build a nest box

If you’ve never built a nest box before, why not give it a go this year? Or if you haven’t got the time, it’s easy to buy one. Go on, give Britain’s birds a valentines day gift this year!

Making your own nest box

If you want more information about nests and nest boxes, contact nnbw@bto.org.

Learning with Countrycare

Written on . Posted in Arts, Buckhurst Hill, Chairman, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Doing business with the council, Epping, Health, Loughton, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Playschemes, Procurement, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Countrycare launches environmental education service to show young people the value of the green spaces and wildlife around them.

The Countrycare team is offering an environmental education service to schools that can work with their curriculum, in both science and arts, to help engage young people with the environment. Environmental education sessions can be run on Local Nature Reserves, in classrooms or in school grounds, and we cater for all ages.

We want young people to grow up not just enjoying the countryside but respecting it as well.

Learning with Countrycare

We offer a range of projects including

  • Creating wildlife sanctuaries in school grounds
  • Building bird boxes
  • Practical projects on Local Nature Reserves
  • Tree ecology
  • Tree planting
  • Invertebrate identification
  • Guided walks

If none of these activities fit in with your syllabus we can mould lessons to fit your needs.

Find out more

Download the brochure Learning with Countrycare (pdf 1MB)

For more information about the environmental education service at Countrycare and the competitive costs call 01992 788203 or email contactcountrycare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

Find out what other work Countrycare does the website at http://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/

You can also follow Countrycare on Twitter at https://twitter.com/EFcountrycare/

Countrycare volunteer day Tuesday 22 January cancelled

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Loughton, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Due to the adverse weather the Countrycare volunteer day on Tuesday 22 January 2013 has been cancelled.

Countrycare is sorry to disappoint those of you who were intending to jump in a pond and clear some reeds tomorrow in North Weald, but the task has been cancelled due to weather conditions. We apologise to anyone who had been looking forward to an ice cold dip. Thursday’s volunteer task is still expected to go ahead.

Countrycare restores parish boundary hedgerow at Bobbingworth Nature Reserve

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Environmental health, Health, Local plan / planning our future, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Planning, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Volunteering opportunities, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Last Thursday, 10 January 2013,  21 volunteers and Countrycare staff planted 600 trees on the Bobbingworth Nature Reserve (former landfill site) to mark the parish boundary between Moreton and Bobbingworth. A study of old maps confirms that the area of the reserve that lies in Moreton used to be a wood, Moreton Wood. The wood disappeared sometime between 1886 and 1912 but the parish boundary remains the same.

Moreton parish boundary 1843 to 1893

Moreton parish boundary 1843 to 1893

Moreton parish boundary 1891 to 1912

Moreton parish boundary 1891 to 1912

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This addition of 600 trees makes the total of trees planted on the nature reserve close to 6,000 since 2008. Native species were locally sourced and dominated by hawthorn with a scattering of hazel, dogwood, dogrose, spindle and guilder rose.  Shallow rooting species were used as the planting was mainly on the “cap”, the membrane that covers the former landfill area.

In time the hedge will provide shelter and food for birds and also a natural corridor across the site for movement of wildlife.

Volunteers worked tirelessly in very cold and muddy conditions. An enormous “thank you” to them all from Countrycare staff.

If you would like to volunteer with Countrycare call 01992 788203 for more information or email contactcountrycare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

 

One Business Briefing – brimming with news for local businesses

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Animal welfare, Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Doing business with the council, Drainage, Energy efficiency, Epping, Grants, Gypsy and traveller, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The January 2013 edition of ‘One Business Briefing’ is now available.

In this edition Reed in Partnership gives local businesses advice on how they can use Government funding to get staff job relevant qualifications at no cost to the employer or employee. It also introduces MP Eleanor Laing’s new Business Forum, reports on current tourism development work, including a key event on 31 January 2013 to develop tourism within the area and much more.

Read the January 2013 edition – One Business Briefing

Produced by Epping Forest District Council, One Epping Forest and local partners the briefing provides information for businesses and those looking to start up in business in the Epping Forest district. The briefing is designed to report on business funding opportunities / access to finance, business support, workshops / events for business, town centre news and other local economic development initiatives.

If you would like to receive future editions of ‘One Business Briefing’ by email please email economicdevelopment@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

Leader calls on residents to Shop Local

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Council tax, Countrycare, Democracy, Health, Housing, Leader, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Olympics, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Parking, Private housing, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Your money

Hello,

When I became the new leader of Epping Forest District Council back in the summer, the country was poised for the Olympic Games.

The Olympics proved to be the most fantastic success. As a Country, we staged probably the best Olympic and Paralympic games ever. At a time when the economy is flat and families are struggling to make ends meet, we all showed the rest of the world what Great Britain can achieve.

I am very proud to say that Epping Forest District played its part in our national success. The Lee Valley White Water Centre outside Waltham Abbey was completed on time and budget, giving thousands of people their first taste of the Olympic rapids before any of the other new venues had opened.

But this was just the platform – we helped to provide a stage but it was the people, the volunteers, the spectators, and most of all, the athletes that made the Games such a success. And as we look ahead to 2013 that is how I see the job of Epping Forest District Council – to provide the stage and the conditions in which the residents of Epping Forest can perform to their maximum potential.

So how do we do that?

To begin with we must leave as much of your money in your own pocket as possible. We are a low tax council. It is three years since the last increase in the Epping Forest District element of the Council Tax. We have one of the lowest Council Taxes in Essex.

We are pro-business. A healthy business sector means jobs and services for local people. Pay and Display parking charges in our towns are among the lowest you can find. Many car parks are free at weekends in the run up to Christmas. Working with local businesses, we promote our town centres, visitor attractions and tourism for local residents and visitors alike.

We are pro the environment. There is terrific demand on local housing because people want to live here. We do all we can to defend the Green Belt and we are trying to provide homes to meet the needs not only of people today, but our children and grandchildren in the future.

Healthy living and an active social life go hand in hand with a good life at home and work. We provide leisure centres, support a Youth Council and keep our older residents fit and active. Much of our work is supported by volunteers. Whether you are clearing country paths and coppicing trees with Countrycare or leading a walk for older people through Epping Forest or the Lee Valley Regional Park, the work of the council is magnified and enhanced by the generosity and spirit of volunteers.

Everyone has a part to play and there is never a better time than Christmas to show your support for the district. I want everyone who lives and works in Epping Forest to join with me in making 2013 the year our district takes off.

Use your local high street

One Shops Local and Visit Epping Forest are two websites designed to support local business. Created by Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, local businesses, the council and other members of our Local Strategic Partnership, these sites are the place to find all the information, deals and recommendations you need to support your local high street.

If you have a few hours to spare and want to make another kind of difference, why not contact Voluntary Action Epping Forest to find out what you could do.

So next time you are thinking about a day out, looking for a good tradesperson or writing your shopping list remember the answers are all online and available on your doorstep.

On behalf of all the councillors and staff at Epping Forest District Council may I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Chris Whitbread
Leader – Epping Forest District Council

Council on 18 December 2012

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Business, Chairman, Commercial properties, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Countryside and wildlife, Democracy, Environmental health, Housing, Licensing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, Our countryside, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Trees and landscapes, Young people, Your community, Your home, Your money

Local Plan, Housing, CCTV, Ash Dieback, The Box and more discussed at Council on 18 December 2012.

Local Plan

Progress on the new Local Plan and associated work was reported to the latest meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 18 December by Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder. In a written report, Councillor Bassett said that work on the Local Plan is continuing. All the issues and options consultation responses will be entered into the analysis system by the end of December.

Analysis of the data is ongoing for forthcoming workshops involving Town, Parish and District Councillors and MPs during the first 3 months of the new year. A further workshop will be held later in the year that will consider the implications of further evidence and a preferred option for the emerging Local Plan to be published in late summer or early autumn 2013 for consultation.

Councillor Bassett has also asked the Forward Planning team to compile a list of the “Brownfield” sites they have considered as part of the Local Plan process. It is hoped that this will help councillors identify any which were not identified in the Strategic Land Availability Assessment part of the process. He reminded councillors that brownfield sites which would accommodate less than 6 houses would not be part of the identification process as they are considered as windfall sites and applications for these normally appear through the normal planning process.

Councillor Bassett noted further work on population projections due to take place in the next few months following recent releases of Census 2011 data. He is also due to hold a follow-up meeting with Harlow District Council in January to discuss cooperation focusing on planning and economic development.

Housing

In other updates, Councillor David Stallan reported progress towards the council’s new house building programme. It is envisaged that the development of the first sites will commence in 2014 and be completed in the winter of 2014/15. He also reported on the use of government grants to support the Council’s Homelessness Prevention Service, Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau and 20 additional loans under the council’s successful Rental Loan Scheme.

CCTV

In his written reports, Councillor Gary Waller, Safer, Greener and Highways Portfolio Holder updated councillors on the reallocation of existing money and new money to enhance CCTV in Loughton High Road as well as a further £40,000 to expand and maintain other new CCTV systems across the district. Councillors agreed a further £10,000 towards the upgrade of Loughton cameras.

Following late-night disorder in Epping, Councillor Waller has also authorised more cameras with funding by club licensees. He also announced a combined operation by the council and Essex Police including more police patrols, use of drug dogs, checking taxi licensing and live CCTV monitoring.

Ash Dieback

Ash Dieback has now been reported in the Epping Forest district. Council staff are advising concerned members of the public and referring possible cases to the national helpline. Tree wardens are also being advised about the disease and are encouraging local surveys to supplement those being undertaken by the Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust. Councillor Waller reported that infection is unlikely to be found on council owned trees in the short term, because there have been no recent plantings of ash saplings. The council’s regular survey of its own stock will include a check for signs of the disease in future.

Councillor Waller’s report noted that although ash is an important tree in the district it is not the major tree of the local countryside or towns. It is a minor component of the district treescape compared to oak in the wider countryside and beech in Epping Forest. The loss even of a high percentage, would be significant but could be mitigated by an active planting programme of other species on council land and by larger landowners and farmers.

The Box – Epping

A late question by Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens informed District Councillors of an emerging funding concern at The Box – a facility for young people in Epping High Street. It would seem, funding by Essex County Council through to April is in doubt and the facility is in danger of closing without intervention. Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of Council thanked Councillor Angold-Stephens for bringing the matter to the council’s attention. He is to instruct District Council Officers to contact the organisers of The Box without delay and encourage an application for grant aid to support The Box until the end of the Financial Year.

Roding Valley Meadows hedge laying project

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Chigwell, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Loughton, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes, Volunteering opportunities, Your area, Your community, Your environment

On 10 October, work started on a joint hedge laying project between the Essex Wildlife Trust, Epping Forest Countrycare and the Epping Conservation Hedge layers, to restore an old neglected hedge line on Roding Valley Meadows Local Nature Reserve.

Before the work

Before the work

Hedge laying is the practice of  ‘pleaching’ the base of a tree, this allows its main stem to be laid over to one side while still remaining attached to its roots, it is then held in place with wooden stakes and bound together. By laying a hedge in this fashion, it allows fresh growth from its base creating a thick, dense hedge. This is ideal habitat for small mammals and invertebrates and also provides food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.

The team consisted of experienced and amateur hedge layers, who, over two days laid a total of 74 yards. The project will continue next winter to complete the rest of the hedge, which can be seen running adjacent to the River Roding and Debden Sports Club.

A pleached tree

The final result