Easter scavenger hunt

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See how many wildlife riddles you can answer and win some Easter treats at our Easter Scavenger Hunt on Wednesday 1 April 2015. It takes place at Roughtalley’s Wood in North Weald, for children aged between 4 to 11 years.

Easter 2015 Scavenger Hunt

  • When – Wednesday 1 April 2015
  • Where – Roughtalley’s Wood, North Weald, CM16 6BL
  • Time – 11am to 1pm
  • Cost – £3 per child

Children must wear clothes suitable for playing outside.

Book now

Booking is essential. To book call Countrycare on 01992 788203.


Play in the Forest at Easter

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Health, Media, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

It’s all about having fun exploring the forest with den building, nature trails and woodland crafts. For boys and girls aged 5 to 11. There is no need to book, just turn up and join in!

Play in the Park & Play in the Forest Easter 2015 flyer

  • When – Monday 30 March 2015
  • Where – Ditches Rise, Coppice Row, Theydon Bois, CM16 7DR
  • Time – 10am to 12pm
  • Cost – £2.50
  • When – Friday 10 April 2015
  • Where – High Beech, Loughton, IG10 4AE
  • Time – 10am to 12pm
  • Cost – £2.50

Booking information

  • Book online

  • Call the booking line on 01992 564226 from 10am to 4pm

For further information on the above activities please contact Community Services on 01992 564363 or 01992 564269.

Conservation volunteers thanked

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Countrycare, Health, Media, Older people, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Volunteering opportunities, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

Our Countrycare team was joined by 53 amazing volunteers on their Thursday project days during 2014. They helped with a wide variety of conservation tasks ranging from pond restoration to building paths and bridges. 5 volunteers attended over 40 times last year.

Volunteers on the annual summer walk at Moreton

To view photos in a slideshow, click on a picture and click start slideshow.

Conservation work was carried out on 19 sites with both Chigwell Row Wood and Linders Field in Buckhurst Hill having the most visits with 6 each. The team worked closely with Essex Wildlife Trust and 6 local Town and Parish councils. They have taken on new work to manage a copse to the north of Sheering.

Their generosity equates to 670 volunteer days in 2014, this was slightly down on 2013 due to the unusually high rainfall in early 2014.

Well done and thank you

Councillor Gary Waller said: “Last year you gave us an incredible 670 days of your time and hard work. This is a fabulous achievement, which we greatly appreciate. You have helped make big improvements to our sites for the benefit of both wildlife and the public. Well done and thank you!”

The Safer, Greener and Transport Portfolio Holder ended: “If you have a few hours to spare on a Thursday, why not come and join our Countrycare team and volunteers to help make it easier for people to enjoy our beautiful countryside – it’s a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and have fun!”

Get involved

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Countrycare, find out how you can get involved.


Pupils in tree-mendous planting success

Written on . Posted in Animal welfare, Business, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Health, Media, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Young people, Your area, Your council

500 trees were planted by pupils from Wormley Primary School on Wednesday 26 November helped by our Countrycare team. This is the latest stage in a long-term project to encourage the children to get outside more and think about the wildlife around them.

Tree planting with pupils

To view photos in a slideshow, click on a picture and click start slideshow.

The children spent an hour planting the 5 different species of tree

  1. Hawthorn
  2. Hazel
  3. Dogwood
  4. Dog Rose
  5. Field Maple

When they are fully grown they will help to provide habitat and food for many species of bird, mammal and insect.

Wildlife area and sensory trail

Countrycare have been working with the Forest Schools teacher creating a space for nature in the school grounds. Together they have been creating a wildlife area and sensory trail around the edge of the playing field for forest schools lessons.

The wildlife area consists of a bird feeding area, stag beetle habitat and bug hotels. The sensory part of the trail has a bridge, balance boards and stepping stones all made from natural materials, all of which are intended to create habitat for insects.

The next step in Spring 2015 will be to plant wildflowers, shrubs and herbs for both the children and pollinating insects to enjoy.

Food and shelter for lots of different species

Abigail Oldham, Countrycare manager said: “The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience and did a great job of creating these new wildlife habitats.”

“I’m really hoping when I come back I’ll find a wonderful wildlife habitat that provides food and shelter for lots of different species of birds, mammals and insects.”

The kids absolutely loved it

Ben Webb, class teacher at Wormley Primary School said: “The kids absolutely loved it and have been talking about it all week.”

Find out about Countrycare

Epping Forest Countrycare is our award winning Countryside Management Service. They undertake a wide variety of community-based activities and coordinates a regular programme of practical conservation work. Find out more on the Countrycare website.


Countrycare guided walk in Sheering

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Media, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

20 people enjoyed a guided walk led by our Countrycare team around the fields of Sheering and along the River Stort on a warm and sunny Sunday morning in late September. The walk was led by Epping Forest Countrycare’s Kevin Mason and Abigail Oldham and joined by local councillor Gary Waller.

Sheering walkers looking at tar spot on a Sycamore

Copse management

Lower Sheering ward councillor Gary Waller and parish clerk Deborah Tennant had contacted Countrycare to ask if they would take over management of the copse to the north of Sheering. An agreement was drawn up and Countrycare began work clearing the footpaths and felling leaning and dangerous trees.

It was explained the copse was planted with Scots Pine after 1945 for reconstruction projects after the Second World War. The numerous and tall coniferous pine trees are now reaching maturity and are shading out longer established trees on what was deciduous woodland. There is evidence that the woodland was once in coppice management. This has long since lapsed and the coppiced trees, especially field maple, are now quite substantial. It is hoped the wood can be brought back into management.

Ash dieback disease

The group were shown the effects of ash dieback disease on an old ash tree. Kevin explained how it could affect the landscape of the countryside in the future. The tree had bracket fungi on the main stem. Local naturalist Tricia Moxey explained how the fungi feeds on the heartwood of the tree.

Tar spot fungus

The tar spot fungus is often found on sycamore trees. The group were shown sycamore leaves growing close to the M11 which showed no sign of the tar spot fungus. The tar spot fungus is an indicator of good air quality as it is killed by sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere close to sources of pollution.

Veteran tree project

Kevin with the big Poplar by the River Stort

The walk carried on through Quickbury Farm, down to Sheering Mill Lane and onto the Stort Valley Navigation by Sheering Mill Lock. A hybrid Black Poplar maiden tree with a girth of 6.6 metres was admired and would have been one of the largest trees recorded in the Epping Forest favourite tree project. Sadly the tree was on the wrong side of the River Stort and technically in Hertfordshire .

Hedgerow ageing

Along the walk back to the meeting point the group stopped to try and date the age of a hedgerow. This is done by counting the species in a 30 metres stretch and multiplying the result by 100. 7 species were recorded making the age of the hedgerow an impressive 700 years.

Get involved

Get involved and find out more about Countrycare.


Swaines Green wins Living Landscape Award

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Media, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Trees and landscapes, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The Friends of Swaines Green and Epping Forest Countrycare received a prestigious Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes Award for their work in managing and maintaining Lovelock’s Meadow in Epping.

The award is given to sites which create landscape links enabling species and people to move through. Swaines Green forms an important green corridor on the north side of Epping linking sections of Epping Forest.

Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes Award

Lovelock’s Meadow, Epping

The site is owned by Epping Town Council and is designated as a Local Wildlife Site. It was formerly grazed but stripped of turf in the 1970s and subsequently became secondary woodland covered in blackthorn, bramble and rose.

The Friends of Swaines Green group was formed to manage the site with the help of Countrycare, who have produced management plans and helped volunteers in the clearance of scrub and regular mowing.

The presentation was made by well known naturalist Simon King on behalf of the Essex Wildlife Trust. Kevin Mason from Countrycare collected the award on behalf of The Friends of Swains Green, on Saturday 21 June during the Trust’s annual general meeting at Langdon Hills near Basildon.

Wildlife Trust Living Landscapes Award presentation

The Living Landscapes award recognises those organisations, groups, businesses and individuals who can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Essex Wildlife Trust Panel that they are helping to deliver Living Landscapes because their project or work meets the following criteria

  1. Good for wildlife
  2. Good for people and the community
  3. Good for the local economy

5 sites in the district have received awards since 2012

  1. Linder’s Field Local Nature Reserve in Buckhurst Hill
  2. Weald Common Local Nature Reserve in North Weald
  3. Bobbingworth Nature Reserve in Moreton
  4. Cripsey Brook Nature Reserve in Ongar (managed by Ongar Town Council)
  5. Lovelock’s Meadow in Epping (part of Swaines Green)

Find out who the other Living Landscapes Award Winners 2014 on the Essex Wildlife Trust website.


Mad about moths records 17 species

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

17 species of moth were identified on 29 August at Bobbingworth Nature Reserve near Moreton in the latest ‘Mad about Moths’ evening organised by Epping Forest District Councils Countrycare team.

Mad About Moths 2014

Identified, recorded and released

Together with local experts 3 humane traps were used to capture the moths. After the traps were emptied, the moths are identified, recorded and released.

  1. The first consisted of a 150w bulb suspended between a couple of tripods and a white sheet spread beneath the light
  2. The second more sophisticated trap was another 150w bulb attached to a bowl like structure containing egg boxes
  3. The third trap was a wooden box with internal baffles, it also contained egg boxes. The light to attract the moths for this trap was a battery operated 12 volt strip light

The 17 species of moth recorded during the evening

  1. Yellow Shell 2
  2. Square Spot Rustic 10
  3. Garden Carpet 1
  4. Large Wainscott 1
  5. Agriphila Geniculea 1
  6. Setaceous Hebrew Character 15
  7. Broad bordered Yellow Underwing 1
  8. Crambus Perlella 1
  9. Flame Shoulder 5
  10. Large Yellow Underwing 5
  11. Light Emerald 1
  12. Agriphila Tristella 1
  13. White Point 2
  14. Common Wainscott 1
  15. Small Square Spot Rustic 2
  16. Vines Rustic 1
  17. Brimstone 1

Biodiversity of wildlife in Essex

Assistant Countryside Manager Nicola Rogers said: “Thanks to all the locals who helped on what was a cool but rain-free night. I’m really happy with the number and species of moths we captured. All the information gathered is sent to the Essex Wildlife Trust to help build a bigger picture of the biodiversity of wildlife in Essex.”


Greensted ramble

Written on . Posted in Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Epping, Health, Media, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Your area, Your community, Your council

Join us for the Greensted ramble on Wednesday 16 July 2014.

The walk starts at 10.30am from the Two Brewers pub car park, Greensted Road, Chipping Ongar, CM5 9HD.

The Greensted Country Walk is an attractive 4 ½ mile circular walk near Ongar. It will take approximately 3 hours to complete. The footpaths on the walk are in good condition, but they will become muddy after wet weather so sturdy footwear is recommended.

The walk takes place in ancient woodlands, green lanes and the oldest wooden church in the world. You will have the chance to book your pub lunch before we start the walk.

Please book your places on this walk from 20 June to 3 July and confirm if you will be having lunch. Places will be limited and are £2 per person lunch payable separately.

Book now

To book your place on the walk see pages 10 and 11 of the diary of walks 2014-15 (pdf 2.3MB) or contact Karen Murray on kmurray@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.



Countrycare records it’s 3,000th veteran tree

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

Last month our Countrycare team recorded the 3,000th veteran tree in the Epping Forest district. By the end of May 2014 the total number of veterans trees recorded is 3,112. This figure includes ancient trees and together with 883 notable trees, the total number of recorded tress is 4,045.

Since 2006 Countrycare and its volunteers and tree wardens have been recording veteran trees in the District as part of a competition to find the 50 Favourite Trees in the district. Trees were nominated by members of the public and judged. 50 trees were selected and a book was produced. This evolved into a project to record as many of the district’s veteran trees as possible.

You can see the database of trees on the 50 Favourite Trees website.

Chigwell Oak

An Oak in Chigwell - 5.9m girth and over 500 years old

Willingale Oak

An Oak in Willingale - 5.7m girth and over 500 years old

Theydon Garnon Oak

Veteran tree in Theydon Garnon - 6.5m girth and over 500 years old

The data shared with the Essex Wildlife Trust to contribute to their biological records database, used to help in planning decisions. It also goes to the Ancient Tree Hunt who map the country and plot the trees on.

Epping and Hainault Forests

The Epping Forest District is blessed with the remnants of the great forests of Essex, which now survive as Epping and Hainault Forests. These 2 areas form a collection of veteran trees of European importance with Epping Forest having over 50,000 veteran trees. These areas were pollarded woodlands (the successive cutting of trees above the browsing height of deer and cattle).

Other woods, such as the Lambourne Woods near Abridge, were coppiced. But the widespread practice of pollarding was not confined to the forests and has left us with a legacy of many old worked trees. They mark the skeleton of the ancient countryside as they are found in the oldest hedgerows and mark the boundaries of the oldest woodlands. 

Even one veteran native tree can be a wildlife habitat in its own right. It is well known that Oaks host a huge variety of species, but it is only the big old trees with holes in the stem and decayed heartwood, that do this. Recording and mapping these trees will inform us of habitat connectivity between ancient woodlands and allows us to view the District at a landscape level. 

Veteran tree

Helen Read, Veteran Tree Initiative 1999 – “The term veteran tree is one that is not capable of precise definition but encompasses trees defined by three guiding principles. Firstly, they are of interest biologically, aesthetically or culturally because of their age. Secondly, they are in the ancient stage of their life (the last third) and lastly that they are old relative to others of the same species.”


Community orchard born

Written on . Posted in Community, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Trees and landscapes, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

A community orchard in Ongar has been brought to life on a former allotment site owned by Epping Forest District Council. On Saturday 18 January 2014 The Friends of Ongar Community Orchard with local volunteers and our own Countrycare team planted a small Community Orchard of apples, plums, pears, greengages and cherries.

View photos in a slideshow by clicking on a picture below and then click start slideshow.

Councillor Brian Surtees of Ongar Town Council opened the day with a few words and although conditions underfoot were very wet, all the trees were successfully planted in time for a late lunch. This included apple pie, toffee apples and cider.

It will be few years before the trees bear fruit and The Friends of Ongar Community Orchard are looking for ways of involving the wider community in the life of the orchard, hoping the orchard will be used by local schools and youth organisations to promote healthy eating and sourcing food locally.

Part of a 3 year project by the Rural Community Council of Essex, the orchard has been funded by Edible Essex, the Big Lottery’s Local Food Scheme and supported by Essex County Council and Ongar Town Council.

Ongar community tree strategy

The orchard was the idea of local conservationist Alan Brett and the project started to take shape in 2008 when Epping Forest District Council published the Ongar Community Tree Strategy. The Strategy found evidence of several small orchards dating back to the 17th Century, remnants of which still survive today. There has been a decline of 81% in Essex orchard land between 1990 and 2007. There are around 250 East Anglian varieties of apple, pear and plum which need to be preserved for their local significance, genetic diversity, and landscape and wildlife value.

Community orchards

Community groups are being given help to conserve or create community orchards following an announcement in August 2011 by Eric Pickles MP to address the decline in traditional orchards. He said: “Community orchards are a brilliant way for communities to get together and grow their own.”

The trees were ordered from the East of England Apples and Orchards Project, a charity dedicated to saving local fruits and orchards.