Wokingham District Veteran Tree Association

WDVTA News

Contents

 

Tree Stories

3 August 2022

Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) has launched a project where members of the public can take a photo of their favourite tree and upload it to the WBC Tree Stories platform and share why they have chosen that particular tree.

Participants may see their photo and story featured on WBC's social media pages.

WBC Garden Forest Scheme

3 December 2021

Wokingham Borough Council has created an 'Engage' platform on the web for residents to see the status and publicity about council plans and projects.

The WBC Tree Project is a component of the platform and the Council has appointed a project manager for the creation of their Tree Strategy and the planning and management of the project to plant the 250,000 trees agreed as part of their Climate Emergency plans.

Part of the Project is the Garden Forest Scheme where residents complete a survey through which they can indicate their interest in planting a tree or trees in their gardens.

Tree felling - Finchampstead Road

28 November 2021

Work is starting on the redesign of the roundabout where Molly Millars Lane meets Finchampstead Road. The large oak tree MRN 1729 and other smaller trees was felled in December 2021.

Insect carvings in Elms Field

22 May 2021

During the redevelopment of Elms Field, some mature trees were sadly felled. But sculptor Steve Radford has used the wood from some of the trees to carve some stunning sculptures of insects which have been returned to Elms Field for everyone to enjoy. Some of the carvings are shown below together with their database identification for the original tree.

Tap the MRN number to see the database entry and photos.

seat carved in the shame of a bee
Bee seat - MRN 185 (oak)
children climbing over caterpillar sculpture
Caterpillar - MRN 7848 (oak)
carving of a chrysalis
Chrysalis - MRN 184 (London plane)
carving of a stag beetle
Stag beetle (London plane)

Council set to plant 250,000 trees across the borough

17 March 2021

Wokingham Borough Council has gratefully received a grant of £300,000 from the Woodland Trust to allow it to plant over 250,000 trees across the borough.

This funding, which is part of the Woodlands Trust’s £2.9 million campaign delivered from the charity's new Emergency Tree Fund, will provide much needed support to local authorities including Wokingham borough to boost tree cover and tackle climate change.

The Trust is working with Wokingham Borough Council and ten other authorities across the UK in the first phase of the project and aims to expand the scheme further in 2022.

WBC responds to concerns about Bearwood fellings

22 February 2021

In response to concerns raised by a member, WDVTA asked WBC for their comments, given that the extent of the felling had given rise to concern and whether climate mitigation had been taken in to account.

Chris Hannington (Team Manager, WBC Trees and Landscape) responded on behalf of WBC, making the following points:

Bearwood trees destroyed

19 February 2021

There has been some major tree felling on the dam for Bearwood Lake. WDVTA has received a number of contacts asking about this activity and whether it has been sanctioned by the Council.

You can see a video here.

The planning application is 203483 and gives details of the work proposed.

A number of people are trying to find out what was approved, what has been felled and what mitigation of the tree loss will be required. The climate impact also needs to be determined. As we get any answers, we will post them here.

Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) survey in Wokingham

white fibres making nest in oak twig with caterpillars
Oak processionary moth nest
5 February 2021

The Forestry Commission is surveying the Wokingham district for OPM infestations. They are working in areas where the moth has been reported by the public as well as randomly selected plots. The work should be completed by 12 March.

The contractors performing the survey are Acres Wild Woodlands and will be wearing Forestry Commission branded hi-vis vests. They will use a timber marking with different symbols for infested and non-infested trees, this year the paint colour used will be orange.

The caterpillar of this moth has a hairy appearance and should not be touched as its hairs can cause a severe skin reaction in many people. It can also cause serious damage to the trees where it builds its nests.

Further information on tree pests and diseases can be found at Gov.uk (Forestry).

Street tree watering campaign

2 June 2020

Newly-planted trees need to be watered regularly over the summer months if they are going to become established and thrive. The Arboricultural Association has launched a street tree campaign encouraging people to water street trees outside their houses, or any other trees they pass on their daily walk.

tree council logo

Tree planting grants

29 May 2020

The Tree Council Branching Out Fund is now open. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Tree Council has funds available to assist schools and community groups proposing to undertake well-planned tree and hedge planting projects this winter, preferably during National Tree Week – 28 November – 6 December 2020.

This year they will fund 100% of the cost (excluding VAT) of strong applications from £300 to an increased upper limit of £1500.

Details here.

Ash dieback hope

19 November 2019

A paper has just been published which gives hope that scientists may be able to fight ash die-back.

Prof Richard Buggs, from the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, has just published some research on genetic studies on ash trees which have been affected and ones which have not been affected by the ash die-back fungus. They have identified several areas in the DNA of unaffected trees which may be enabling the trees to withstand the infection. The project team hope to bring together all of the advantageous genetic differences into a single population of ash trees which would have a higher resistance than any ash trees we currently have. These could then be used to restock the country with ash trees in the future.

You can read more about the work and their results and conclusions on the BBC News website.

Network Rail vegetation clearance

3 October 2019

Network Rail (NR) is cutting back the vegetation on the trackside verges along the stretch of line between Wokingham and Reading stations. This work is necessary to ensure that leaf fall problems are minimised and that good sight-lines for crews working on the tracks can be established.

NR commissioned an independent ecological survey of the impact of vegetation management on the biodiversity along this stretch of line as it is aware of public interest and concern about such management schemes. The detailed plan for the work has been made available to the public and on 16 September 2019 NR held an open meeting at the Winnersh Community Centre to explain the project and answer any questions or concerns raised.

WDVTA and the Reading Tree Wardens Group, wishing to ensure that damage to this habitat is kept to the minimum consistent with NR’s aims, submitted written responses to NR’s plans. Our representatives attended the public consultation meeting and have had two on-site meetings with the NR project manager, the team members and the head of the contractors who will do the work for NR. Jon Stokes, Director of Programmes for the Tree Council, also attended the meetings. He provided an expert and independent opinion on how tree clearance or tree size reduction might be managed to preserve and maintain as much as possible of the tree habitat while ensuring that NR’s aims are achieved.

railway line with vegetation cleared on left
Looking towards Reading from the footbridge leading to St Paul's Churchyard on 11 October 2019
railway line with vegetation being cleared
The same view on 26 November 2019
railway line with vegetation being cleared
View on 11 March 2020
railway line with vegetation regrowing
Regenerating: 15 September 2020

More photographs can be found here.

The removal of vegetation extended to a minimum of 7 metres on both sides of the track. This caused a marked change in the appearance of the trackside areas but it is expected that the ‘bare’ look will soften over 18 months to 2 years as new undergrowth appears leaving a safe and more easily managed trackside.

Two related documents are of interest. The first, Valuing nature - a railway for people and wildlife, was commissioned by the Government (Minister for Rail) to provide best practice guidelines for Network Rail’s estate management. The second document, Vegetation Management Site Specification – Wokingham to Reading, is from NR and describes the specific proposals for the line between Reading and Wokingham.
Both documents can be found here.

 

Fox Hill woodland up for sale

woodland footpath
Public footpath through the wood
woodland footpath
Fox Hill in autumn
halloween doll in wood
Guardian of the wood?

A substantial part of the Fox Hill woodland has been put up for sale. Although the trees seem to be covered by TPOs, there is local concern that this may herald changes to the much used and enjoyed woodland between Woosehill, Limmerhill and Bearwood Road.

Stephanie McKay, WDVTA Treewardens coordinator, is closely involved with the growing local campaign to find an organisation that might purchase the land up for sale and manage the woodland with public access to retain it as a significant local asset.

The campaign has set up a Facebook group called Protect Foxhill Woodland and they also have a website, Friends of Fox Hill.

The WDVTA Committee has agreed that our position is to support any local campaign in trying to ensure the woodland is retained and managed as a public amenity.

 

 

DEFRA issues Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) alert

white fibres making nest in oak twig with caterpillars
Oak processionary moth nest
11 July 2019

The Tree Council has been asked by their colleagues at Defra for help with an urgent tree health matter concerning recent outbreaks of OPM and they have passed the message on to WDVTA.

If you know anyone who has recently planted larger oaks (as defined in the press notice below) imported from the continent, Defra is requesting that they check these trees for OPM, and report any findings to Tree Alert. At this time of year, you are most likely to notice the hairy-looking caterpillar or web-like nests - please do not touch either as they could potentially be harmful to your health. Please find further guidance from Defra below, and for more information on the moth and its identification, visit Observatree or Forest Research.

 

Review of 2021

Our events programme has always centred around a four pillared programme of walks, visits, talks, and training. As well as being an opportunity to become better informed about the value, health, and management of our wonderful trees, our events have offered wonderful opportunities for WDVTA members to meet, enjoy each others’ company and benefit from the shared wealth of members’ experience of trees and the natural world.

We learned many lessons from the restrictions that were put into place during 2020. The value of Zoom has been immeasurable in allowing us to continue with a programme of events.

picture of Simon Armitage with poem
Contribution to WDVTA from Simon Armitage for our Favourite Trees evening

Talks were greatly enhanced by powerpoint presentations. Without the mastery of the technology that Barry Andersen, Elaine and Malcolm Butler, and our webmaster Malcolm Inglis so capably demonstrated our programme would have been fruitless.

The year began with an excellent virtual walk through Charvil and surrounds led by Barry and Claire Andersen and Sarah Swatridge. We enjoyed a walk by the waterside and along woodland paths exploring a local area largely unknown to many of us until then.

Another very well attended talk was the enlightening update from Gregor Murray the Executive Member for Climate Emergency at WBC held in February.

Our Annual General Meeting was held for the second year on Zoom in March. Guest Speakers Dr Sam Hughes and Nick Hale from the South East Rivers Trust told us about their projects including regeneration work taking place on the Emm Brook. They also detailed the Charvil Backwater Project and told us about the Loddon Catchment Partnership. As a result of this evening some members from WDVTA have become more closely involved with these projects.

In May we repeated a popular event held some years before: My Favourite Tree. It was a mix of contributions from members, from tree professionals who have given talks to WDVTA, and from a few well-known names. Outstanding was the kind reply we received from the Poet Laureate who had taken the time to write a few words for us. It felt very special to end the evening with his thoughts.

WDVTA stand at festival
WDVTA members on the stand at the Twyford Tree Festival

We were very lucky to have our invitation accepted by Jamie Hartzell and guests who reported to us in September on their Oxfordshire Treescape Project. The aim of this project is to identify the appropriate sites for planting new trees that will double the tree cover in the target area. It was shown how ecological, economic, geographic factors all require consideration in the selection of planting sites.

Throughout the year members had been present at various plantings of community orchards and other trees. As the year drew to a close WDVTA supported the Twyford Tree Festival in November during National Tree Week.

We are unable to hold any winter events as a consequence of the rapid spread of the highly transmissible Omicrom variant Covid virus. We look forward to arranging our programme for the forthcoming year with increased freedom.

If you missed any of the above talks or would like to look back over them the slides and recordings of previous events can be found at our presentations archive. This page includes Glynn Percival’s excellent update on tree diseases from the end of 2020.

Review of 2020

2020 turned into a year that overturned most of the events WDVTA had in planning as it will almost certainly have done with your personal plans. You will be well aware that it became a year like no other. After our most enjoyable walk at Fox Hill in February we postponed and cancelled all but the AGM which was very different to previous meetings. National Tree Week in the late autumn reopened events with a very welcome and enlightening talk from Dr Glynn Percival which many of you joined on Zoom.

We look forward to bringing you our usual selection of walks, talks and more in the forthcoming year, some still online but maybe some back in the real world in time but regrettably not for now.

Review of 2019

We continued to run our usual mix of walks and talk, training and visits. Here are just some of the highlights of 2019.

We began the year with a visit in January to see the Ankerwycke Yew at Runnymede. This impressive ancient tree is said by some to be up to 2500 years old. Toby Hindson, co-founder of the Ancient Tree Forum kindly hosted the event and was very informative. We gathered at the Perseverance Inn nearby for a lunch afterwards.

We had special guest speakers from the Tree Council at our AGM, the new chief executive, Sara Lom, and Jon Stokes Director of Programs (their spelling!). It was a really interesting evening. Jon concluded by remarking that our Green Routes, the tree lined roads in Wokingham, are not only beautiful but becoming increasingly rare in the UK.

Michael and Susan Rea kindly led a spring walk around Evendons, taking in the lovely Redlands Farm Park. The area has good footpaths and many magnificent trees en route. Our local walks are always very well attended and show that there are so many undiscovered gems on our doorstep.

A summer walk around the grounds of Wellington College in summer was much enjoyed. Mark Dodd, Head of Gardens and Countryside, gave us a fascinating insight into the rewards and challenges of running this magnificent park.

people looking across golf course
Group admiring the poplars on Sandmartins golf course, Evendons walk
avenue of wellingtonias in front of college
Wellington College main drive at the end of the group visit
 

A suggestion from Jill Butler of the Woodland Trust at our 2018 AGM sparked interest in the naming of trees. Giving names to trees is a powerful way of protecting them by identifying the trees as individuals. WDVTA ran a competition at Winnersh Summer Fête in 2018 and two splendid trees on the Bearwood Recreation Ground were accorded the winning names, The Walter Oak and The Sindlesham Oak. At the 2019 Fête there was an unveiling ceremony of name plaques led by WDVTA and Winnersh Parish Council.

oak in field
The Walter oak in early spring
oak, summer fete
The Sindlesham oak hosting the Winnersh Fête
 
 
plaque on tree comemorating Walter family
The Walter oak plaque
plaque on tree saying it dates from 1680s
The Sindlesham oak plaque
 

In late August we visited Savernake Forest, the only privately owned forest in Britain now managed by the Forestry Commission. We were lucky enough to have one of the rangers, Tom Blythe, leading the walk. The forest, an SSSI, is home to over 7000 trees, mainly oak, sweet chestnut, beech and ash. There is reputed to be a greater concentration of veteran trees here than anywhere in Europe and there are many indicators, such as rare lichens, of its ancient woodland status. Lunch was at the Roebuck in Marlborough.

The year’s events ended with talk Wokingham's Trees: Visible? Valued? Vanishing? by the Chair, Alison Griffin, at Wokingham Library and WDVTA representatives attended a Network Rail drop-in consultation event where members of the public could find out about, and challenge, NR's plans for clearing trees and vegetation along the line between Reading and Wokingham.