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!

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

Loughton’s remarkable trees walk

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Our countryside, Trees and landscapes

21 local residents enjoyed a guided walk around the conservation areas of Baldwins Hill and York Hill in Loughton looking at the extensive collection of veteran trees in the area. They were led by local naturalist Tricia Moxey and Epping Forest District Councils Countrycare assistant Kevin Mason.

[flickr set = ‘72157627192429264’]

The walk, on Sunday 10 July 2011, added several new veteran trees to the councils database of veteran trees and demonstrated the significance of the veteran trees in Loughton as part of the Loughton tree strategy. Tricia explained the significance of old hedgerows in the area using a dating method known as Hooper’s Rule. Hooper’s Rule suggests the number of mature species in a 30 metre stretch multiplied by 100 can give an approximate age for a hedge. The York Hill hedge had 6 species and therefore is aged at approximately 600 years old.

The walk also covered the area known as Little Cornwall, an area named by local author Ruth Rendell in her 1974 novel ‘The Face of Trespass’. Kevin explained the history of the area and local points of interest. A short stop was made on the green opposite the Gardener’s Arms to admire the view across East London to Canary Wharf and the hills of Kent in the distance.

The walkers continued to Woodberry Hollow, also known as Drummaids, to look at the view of the forest. From there the spire at the top of High Beech church was just visible. Pausing at two Horse chestnut trees, Tricia explained that the Horse chestnut leaf minor micro moth was damaging the tree leaves. Kevin gave details to the group of what can be done to help and of the conker tree science project.

The walk lasted over two hours with 25 different tree species seen. It was appreciated by all who came along on what turned out to be a beautiful, warm and sunny warm morning.

Don’t miss out on the next guided walk by Countrycare around Epping Upland and Nazeing on Saturday 16 July walking the footpaths originally worked on by Countrycare in 1986. Details can be found on the online events calendar.

More Trees Please

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

This year, a total of 180 trees have been planted by the Council`s Parks Department across the Epping Forest district.

A range of species, including Sweet Gum, Turkish Hazel, Rowan, Cherries and Silver Birch have been planted this season. The aim is to put the right tree in the right place. Therefore careful consideration is given to the species selection to try to avoid the tree becoming a nuisance and instead, a long-term asset to an area.

A Tree being planted by Epping Forest District Councils Parks Department

A mixture of bare root and container-grown stock are planted in a range of locations, from paved areas or grass verges to open spaces. The ongoing threats against our trees from climate change, pollution, pests and diseases as well as sadly vandalism, only re-enforces the need to place the right tree in the right spot.

Environmental Co-ordinator Sarah Creitzman said: The Council recognises its responsibility to help protect our local environment and planting plenty of new trees is one way to try to tackle climate change. There are a number of schemes in place, run by the Council to make sure that new trees continue to be planted every season.

Amongst the trees planted this season, a number were kindly donated by members of the public through our Tree Donation Scheme. Details of how to take advantage of this service and to find further information on how the Council aims to preserve the tree population of the district, visit the Trees area of the council website.

Landscape Officer Invited to House of Commons

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

Landscape Officer Chris Neilan

Epping Forest District Council`s Landscape Officer and Arboriculturist Chris Neilan was invited to a special reception at the House of Commons hosted by Tree Council Vice President Brian Donohoe MP at which Baroness Andrews, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at Communities and Local Government, officially launched National Tree Week.

Chris Neilan said: I was invited because CAVAT (Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees), the tree value method I have developed, is crucial to current major national initiatives to help protect trees. Over the previous few months it has featured in articles in many national newspapers, including a photograph on the front page of the Times and a feature in The Observer and is currently reported on the front of the current Tree Guardian, the Tree Council’s newsletter to their tree wardens.

CAVAT is specifically reviewed in the Trees and Design Action Group Green Paper `No Trees, No Future – Trees in the Urban Realm `, also launched for consultation at the event. The paper includes two sets of proposed guidelines. One is for Large Species Trees in New Development – including maximising opportunities to plant large species landscape trees in new development and overcoming issues such as perceived threats to foundations. The other is for Assessing the Value of Urban Trees – dealing with the potential approaches to assessing the financial value of trees in developments, including their value to the community. CAVAT is reviewed under this heading and its adoption by the insurance, loss adjusting, Local Authority and private arboricultural sectors (in connection with setting evidence levels in subsidence cases) praised as an excellent example of joint working.

Chris Neilan concluded: I was delighted to attend this special event at the House of Commons and am very happy that my tree valuation method is now helping to improve the management of trees and to save trees that might otherwise be lost, well beyond the bounds of Epping Forest District.

Trust Branches Out with Rare Freewoods Offer

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Our countryside, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your community, Your environment

Landowners across Essex are being offered a tree-mendous opportunity – the planting of a new native woodland, completely free of charge, with the Woodland Trust.

The Freewoods offer from the Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, takes its woodland creation programme in a new direction by seeking new partners and new locations for tree planting. The offer is expected to strike a chord with environmentally-aware landowners wishing to enhance their land for wildlife. By spring 2009 selected landowners could see their own mini-forests planted of oak, ash, birch and cherry thanks to the Woodland Trust.

Picture of a 10 year old young forest

Essex is one of three counties to pilot the Freewoods opportunity, with the Woodland Trust working alongside Essex County Council to help the authority’s aim to plant an additional 250,000 trees as part of its “Essex Works” tree planting programme.

Councillor Tracey Chapman, Essex County Council cabinet member for environment and waste said: “Our tree pledge aims to help produce a fine sustainable countryside that benefits both wildlife and people. By working with local landowners we are helping to improve and develop land that may otherwise be lost. I would encourage anyone who fits the criteria to apply. The benefits for our landscape and environment are long lasting.”

The other Freewoods pilot counties are Lancashire and Yorkshire, with some individual projects already approved elsewhere including tree planting in a new nature reserve and a new wood on land purchased to save it from development. The Freewoods offer includes site survey and advice on tree species with the Trust then planting and looking after the trees for two years. The minimum planting area per applicant is one hectare (2.5 acres).

“As a starting point all you need is the land and to share our commitment to increase native woodland cover,” said Trust project manager Peter Leeson. “The project is designed to have minimal paperwork and no bureaucracy. The pilot project has limited funds, however, and we will be choosing the best project sites from the applications we receive.”

Peter Leeson continued: “We are passionate about the need to increase native woodland cover, not only to help wildlife prosper but also to increase the quality of everyone’s lives. Of the UK’s total woodland, only one third is native broadleaf trees. An ideal new woodland area would be near ancient woodland or a site of ecological value on arable or improved grazing land. We will not plant trees on sites of high existing ecological value. We know from our work that creating new woodland can be a big decision for landowners – but we also know that more and more people want to plant or manage woods and to help wildlife and biodiversity.”

Research shows that reversing historically low woodland also offers green space for people for exercise and mental relaxation, improves water quality, reduces localised flooding, acts as a cooling influence locally and can play a role in mitigating the effects of climate change.

“Planting new native trees is vitally important to us,” Peter added. “Since the 1930’s England and Wales have lost half of their native woodland cover. England is now one of the least wooded countries in Europe, second from the bottom of the European woodland cover league.”

The Freewoods programme aims to plant trees by the end of March 2009 and has a limited budget. Interested parties should contact: Naomi Fox at the Woodland Trust by telephone on 01476 581111 or by email to naomifox@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

The Woodland Trust is the UK’s leading woodland conservation charity with 300,000 members and supporters.

    The Trust has four key aims:

  1. No further loss of ancient woodland
  2. Restoring and improving the biodiversity of woods
  3. Increasing new native woodland
  4. Increasing people’s understanding and enjoyment of woodland.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 20,000 hectares (50,000 acres). Access to its sites is free. Further news can be found on the Woodland Trust website.

Woodland Trust website (opens in a new window)

Tree Officer Featured in the Observer

Written on . Posted in Countryside and wildlife, Media, Our countryside, Trees and landscapes, Your environment

Photographer Phil Fisk and assistant at work

Epping Forest District Council`s Tree and Landscape Officer Chris Neilan was featured in a major article in The Observer magazine on Sunday 12 October 2008. The subject was his work on Capital Asset Value for Amenity Trees (CAVAT), a tree value system intended to help Councils manage their tree stock better and to be able to demonstrate that they are doing so.

CAVAT came to the attention of Lucy Siegle, a journalist from the BBC and The Observer, who interviewed Chris in Berkeley Square in Central London where the (so far) most valuable tree in Britain stands. Earlier in the summer this tree also featured in a number of stories in the national press, including on the front page of The Times. It has been calculated to have a CAVAT value of £750,000. A picture of Chris measuring the tree accompanies the interview.

Tree Officer Chris Neilan being photographed in Berkeley Square

For comparison, an average street tree in Epping would be worth around £5,500 and the most valuable tree in the District so far surveyed would be worth £250,000. This stands by the green, south of St John`s Church in Epping. Chris has been working on CAVAT for the last ten years, largely in his own time but with the support of John Preston, Director of Planning and Economic Development.

Bobbingworth Tip – the Problem and the Solution

Written on . Posted in Business, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Our countryside, Out and about, Recycling and waste, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your environment, Your home

Work begins on Monday 19 March 2007 on the long awaited improvements to Bobbingworth Tip.

For more than ten years in the 1960`s and 70`s the former gravel pit near Ongar was being used as a landfill for domestic rubbish. Although landfill seemed like a cheap and easy solution to rubbish disposal at that time, tips like Bobbingworth have left a legacy of pollution. Now the Council is investing £1.35 million into turning the site into a public asset.

The works now getting under way to clean up the site will create huge underground barriers and drains to help control the flow of water leeching through the refuse. By the end of the project only clean, healthy treated water will flow from the site. The aims of the project is to control the volume of leachate leaving the tip and going into the Thames Water Utilities Ltd sewage works as Epping Forest District Council can be in breach of licence and incur penalties. Native trees and hedgerows will be preserved and enhanced with new planting and landscaping to provide a park for people to walk in and enjoy.

Tips like Bobbingworth pollute the local environment by giving off gases and contributing significantly to global warming. After so many years the gas emissions at Bobbingworth are now falling, but problems remain of pollution escaping as water seeps through the tip and affects land and watercourses around it. The smell of  gas may have faded but the water pollution is clear to see.

Over the course of the building works, a large number of lorries will bring materials to the site for the construction of the various structures and topsoil to cap the site properly. Care is being taken to keep the disturbance to residents caused by these lorries to a minimum.

    To reduce disturbance:

  • Opening times will be restricted:          Monday to Friday 8:00 – 18:00
              Saturday 8:00 – 13:00Note: there will be no operations on Sundays and Public Holidays
  • Low noise plant and equipment with effective silencers that are properly maintained
  • Work on Saturdays (when possible will be conducted away from the site boundaries)
  • On Friday afternoons soil deliveries will stop at 16:00 rather than 16:30
  • A maximum of 90 lorries on any one-day
  • No soil deliveries on Saturdays

The lorries entering and leaving the site will be restricted to a 30mph speed limit. Random checks will be carried out by Veolia (an environmental service) to make sure that the lorries delivering materials to the site are driving properly, and are driving at the right delivery times. Local residents are encouraged to report to Veolia any problems caused by the lorries. On site wheel-cleaning facilities will prevent lorries transferring mud onto clean roads.

    Contact details for Veolia are:

  • Telephone number for Veolia 01277 723 552
  • Or email the Veolia environmental manager darren.cole@veolia.co.uk

Ongar Tree Strategy Public Meeting

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

A public meeting is to be held in the Budworth Hall on Wednesday 25 October 2006 at 7.30pm to discuss the production of an Ongar Tree Strategy.

The proposed Tree Strategy will be reviewing the tree and landscape history of Ongar, assessing what is there now, and planning for the future.

    This is a chance for residents of Ongar to come along and add their contributions: 

  • Do you have any interesting anecdotes about the trees and landscape of Ongar?
  • What would you like to see in Ongar in the future?
  • Do you have any skills you are able to offer to help in the production of this document?
Click here to view Ongar Tree Strategy poster

The document is being produced by Epping Forest District Council in partnership with Ongar Town Council and the people of Ongar. So don`t miss this opportunity to come and have your say.