Dallington Forest Rare Insects Found

(Posted on behalf of Doug Edworthy )

Photo of wetland cranefly
Photo ©️ J. Salmela

Dallington Forest is home to so many treasures. A recent survey – Dallington Forest Saproxylic Invertebrate Sampling report – just published, has found a number of nationally rare and endangered species including a wetland cranefly Ellipteroides alboscutellatus (pictured here)  described in the report as “a remarkable discovery”

From April through October 2018, 150 species of insect were identified from sampling in Dallington Forest; 48 of the Coleoptera species, 37 of the Diptera and 2 Hemiptera were saproxylic – dependent on decaying wood, giving a total of 87 saproxylic species; 16 of the species trapped are of special note due to their rarity across Britain, and these comprise 5 Nationally Rare and 11 Nationally Scarce species.

The report by Ecological Consultant Dr. Keith Alexander was commissioned by Dallington Forest Project. It was funded by a grant from Sussex Lund, grant application assisted by the Woodland Trust, Ancients of the Future (a Buglife project funded by the heritage Lottery Fund) provided traps and materials, and Peter Chandler identified the Diptera.

A PDF copy of the report is available here:
Dallington Forest Saproxylic Invertebrate Sampling 2018 Keith Alexander

Saproxylic invertebrates are those invertebrates that are dependent on dead or decaying wood (or dependent on other organisms that are themselves dependent on dead wood). These invertebrates may not be dependent on the wood for their entire life cycle but at least some stage is dependent on wood.

A good example of this are the larvae of some beetles that feed on decaying wood. The adults may feed on other things (such as nectar).

Dead wood is an essential component of woodland ecosystems, but one that is often overlooked and cleared away as unsightly or on the grounds of safety or neatness. As a result, invertebrate species that rely on dead wood are now some of the most threatened in Britain. It is vital to retain a variety of dead wood habitats within the woodland. This includes standing trees, dead branches, stems and snags on living trees and fallen branches and stumps. A range of dead wood at all stages of decay will provide a range of habitats for more specialist saproxylic (dead wood) invertebrates.

See the following websites for more information about saproxylic invertebrates: –

https://www.buglife.org.uk/search?combine_2=saproxylic

http://ec.europa.eu/…/spec…/redlist/beetles/introduction.htm

https://www.amentsoc.org/insects/glossary/terms/saproxylic

Tree Warden advice about Ash Dieback

(Message posted on behalf of Doug Edworthy, Tree warden for Dallington and Brightling)

In February 2019 the Tree Council published an Action Plan Toolkit concerning Chalara (Ash Dieback disease) primarily aimed at authorities and big landowners.

While the Action Plan Toolkit might not be directly applicable to all parishioners of Brightling and Dallington, there are landholdings in the parishes containing a great number of Ash trees some of which are near to public roads, bridleways and footpaths and may pose a risk when they become infected.

The document also outlines the responsibilities and actions expected of local authorities and so it will provide a useful checklist against which our own local authorities’ performance can be monitored.

Please click on this link to access a summary of information from the ‘Toolkit’ that is relevant or of interest to people of our two parishes. Summary of Tree Council Toolkit

You can also download the full Toolkit here: https://www.treecouncil.org.uk/Ash-Dieback

Useful guide to tree pests and diseases

We’ve heard a lot about Ash Dieback Disease, but it’s not the only threat to our trees.

The Observatree project is designed to help us all to look out for and report signs of trouble. They explain:

“Working with the UK Plant Health Risk Group (the group that maintains the UK Plant Health Risk Register), Observatree has identified those pests and diseases which are of the highest concern at the moment. They are the ones:

  • most likely to arrive in the UK

• that have already arrived and we are concerned about their spread

  • which have the potential to cause the most serious and widespread impact on commercial forestry, amenity woodland and ecological systems”

You can find out more and download useful resources including spotters guides at their website at https://www.observatree.org.uk/tree-health/pests-and-diseases/ .

Ash Dieback.

(Posted on behalf of Doug Edworthy, Dallington Tree Warden)

The Tree Council has just published an Ash Dieback Action Plan Toolkit, and it makes sobering reading.

Every landowner should have the opportunity to learn about the impending dieback of their Ash woodland and the costs, financial and otherwise, that landowners will face.

It can be downloaded from the Tree Council’s page

https://www.treecouncil.org.uk/Ash-Dieback

Looking for volunteer tree surveyors

The Woodland Trust is looking for volunteers to take part in the Observatree project which aims to protect the UK’s trees, woods and forests from new pests and diseases.

Volunteers receive training to enable them to correctly identify signs and symptoms of Observatree’s 22 priority pests and diseases as well as carry out effective site surveys

if you are interested, you can find out more at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer-with-us/opportunities/tree-health-surveyor-various-locations/

Preserve the Dallington Forest POW Tree!

(posted on behalf of our Tree Warden, Doug Edworthy)

The Dallington Forest ‘PoW’ Tree
Photo of POW treeJust inside Dallington Forest, and close to a public bridleway, there is a culturally-important tree that is not well known in the area – perhaps because it is difficult to find without guidance. We have Tree Warden-led walks into the Forest that take in this tree – so come along on the next walk!

As part of the Dallington Forest Project I’m attempting to gather all relevant information together to document it for the benefit of current and future generations before it is lost to the ravages of time and decay.

Known locally as the ‘PoW Tree’ this is a veteran pollarded Beech tree, probably around 250 years old, that is rapidly approaching an untimely end. Much of the interior of the trunk’s base has been hollowed-out by fungi, and the opinion of an experienced arborist is that the trunk will fail catastrophically within the next few years.

The tree gets its name from graffiti carved on its trunk some 3 m off the ground. The inscription (presumably by a prisoner of war from Cologne, Germany) reads: –

TB
KÖLN
1946
P.O.W.

There was a German Prisoner of War Working Camp GPWW 145 situated at Normanhurst Court, Battle, less than 10 miles away, continuing to hold prisoners until 1948.

I understand that the Normanhurst PoW camp supplied labour to the Gypsum Mines at Mountfield and, at the time, much of Dallington Forest was under the management of the Mine. It is not inconceivable that parties of PoWs would have been employed as foresters and, perhaps during a lunch break, one of them climbed the tree to leave his indelible mark for posterity.

Who was ‘TB’? Or was the graffiti artist’s name actually ‘T.B.KÖLN’? Perhaps records could solve the riddle of his identity.

Sadly, I understand that most of the records of the PoW camps’ occupants were destroyed after the war. Was this related to the slow repatriation of Axis forces to German and elsewhere compared to the relatively speedy repatriation of PoWs back to the UK? Is there a darker political secret waiting to be unearthed? It would be interesting to find out.

Before this tree falls and is lost – it could be in a gale this autumn – we have a limited opportunity to document and record this culturally-important tree for posterity.

For example; wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a bark rubbing done of the inscription that could be framed and displayed together with information about the tree and the inscriber in the Brightling and Dallington Village Halls?

And we need urgently a good photographic record to show not just the details of the inscription but the tree in its surroundings and context.

Help from amateur (or professional) archivist and historians would be very welcome to research such records as exist of the Normanhurst Court PoW camp, its occupants and the Gypsum Mine and its management so that we can add more of the human dimension to the history of this tree.

If you would like to help please contact Doug Edworthy, Brightling & Dallington Tree Warden at treewarden@dallington.org.uk

Doug Edworthy
Tree Warden, Brightling & Dallington Parishes
Dallington Forest Project

If you would like to print out this information to share it more widely, you can download it as a PDF flyer here  Dallington PoW Tree

Guided walk in Dallington Forest Monday 7th May

On Bank Holiday Monday 7th May our Tree Warden Doug Edworthy will be conducting a 1-2 hour circular walk in the part of Dallington Forest closest to the village. Nothing too strenuous, though the walk will involve fording a stream, climbing over fallen trees, muddy and slippery paths, and some steep ascents. But, providing they don’t go over too quickly, walkers will experience the sight and scent of beautiful bluebells in an ancient woodland ghyll full of majestic veteran Beech trees,  prehistoric rippled sandstone beds and the Prisoner of War tree.  Afterwards, for anyone who still has the energy and time, Doug may add on another hour or so of circular walk through more ancient woodland and planted forestry illustrating the challenge faced by the remnants of ancient woodland in Dallington forest.

The meeting point is the junction of the Baker’s Lane bridleway with the Glaziers Forge track at 10:30 for a 11:00 departure.  Please note there is virtually no parking for cars so walking there is the best option. If you would like to come, please email Doug at treewarden@dallington.org.uk  so he knows how many people to expect.

Tree walks

Those of you who enjoyed our tree warden’s fascinating talk last year about the extraordinary riches of Dallington Forest will be glad to know that Doug is working on plans for some guided walks through the forest when conditions are a bit less muddy. Watch this space for further details in due course. Meanwhile, there is an opportunity to join a historic woodland walk in nearby Mountfield led by Peter Miles. Details below:

THROUGH TREES & TIME
Explaining our local landscape

BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND
Sunday April 22nd, Friday April 27th,Sunday April 29th, Sunday May 6th, 2018
Start: 9.30 am            Distance/Time: Only 2 miles, minimum 3 hours.
Terrain: Easy but brambles and mud so wellies; lots of standing as well.
Start: Mountfield Village Hall. Free parking. Loos available at start/finish.

Following the success of this walk the last four years, Peter Miles will be repeating it this year. The walk is based in a small area of Mountfield off rights of way, deep in private woodland, with features ranging from pre-1250 to the 20thC. Trees and plants provide extra clues. This is history under your boots. The main purpose of the walk is to explain why our local High Weald landscape looks as it does and will cover details such as woodland archæology, medieval earthworks (wood banks, 13thC moated site), other industrial remains (mine pits, quarries, kilns),woodland crafts (coppicing, sawpits, charcoal platforms), plus botanical clues including a rare plant population and an even rarer tree, foraging (with recipes), and more. One underlying theme is the network of old roads across the Weald including the old Sow Track from Penhurst’s Tudor furnace to Robertsbridge Forge. This year, rewriting local history: a visit to a newly discovered, very secret, unexcavated R***n iron site. Above all, the emphasis will be on fun.
Well behaved dogs on leads welcome. Not really geared for children, even if on leads. Take home info pack. Cost £10.00 per person — profits to All Saints Church. First come, first served…

To book, or for more details, contact Peter on
savedarwell@gmail.com or 01580 880 614.

Walk sponsored by Darwell Area Conservation Society

Dallington Forest Ancient and Veteran Tree Survey

The comprehensive and detailed survey of the ancient and veteran trees in and around Dallington Forest has recently been published. It was carried out by Jamie Simpson and John Smith and  funded by the Peter William George Smith Charitable Trust, and it can be downloaded from a page on the High Weald AONB website http://www.highweald.org/high-weald-aonb-management-plan/evidence/420-home/research-reports/2316-dallington-forest-tree-survey.html

This report highlights the importance of ancient and veteran trees at Dallington Forest. The study is the result of an extensive project aiming to establish and promote the ecological value of the area and advise on best practice in managing the landscape.

The research has confirmed that high numbers of veteran and ancient trees are characteristic of the Dallington Forest area, a well-wooded area with a long history of woodland management that is typical of the High Weald AONB.

A total of 1014 individual trees and 15 groups of trees were recorded (987 alive and 27 dead). There were 22 species of tree and shrub, with beech (41%) and oak (33%) dominating. In terms of age class 49% of the trees were veteran and 6% were ancient.

Many of the trees, particularly those in woodland, require sympathetic management to remove competitive growth (haloing) following the cessation of traditional woodland management. This will benefit species associated with veteran and ancient trees, particularly those that utilise decaying wood (saproxylic), as they require some light and warmth.