Action in rural Sussex – Photography Competition 2021
Dallington is home not only to beautiful woodlands but also many talented photographers so we should have a good local showing in this year’s AirS photography competition.
The theme is Sussex’s Wonderful Woodlands and how people enjoy and get to know the woods. Whether your focus is on beautiful wildlife or on people, AirS say, “our judges will be looking for imaginative, beautiful images that capture the vibrant woodlands within Sussex and the community spirit that weaves throughout these areas. We want to see you out there getting involved with nature and the woods!”
Entry is free, and the competition will be open until Sunday 28th November 2021. There will be three age categories to enter: under 10s, 11-17 and 18+, and some great prizes.
Forestry England are starting coppice work in September in Darwell Wood. The details, from Forestry England, are below
I am writing to inform you of the coppice work that will be starting in September at Darwell and should run through until December.
Here’s a summary of what we are doing and what we are trying to achieve.
The coppice rotations are based on small coupes (< 2ha) being felled each year, using a ‘little and often’ system designed to create rotational open space which will benefit a number of species of butterfly and other invertebrates across the woodland. Birds which benefit include nightjar in the open stage, and once the natural regeneration matures to thicket stage, it will provide quality habitat for Schedule 41 species such as nightingale, turtle dove, cuckoo and willow warbler.
Brash will be cleared (raked and put into neat dead hedges or chipped and removed from site) to allow light to the forest floor and reduce the nutrient content encouraging the growth of wildflowers amongst the sapling stage natural regeneration.
Veteran trees and standing deadwood identified within the operational area will be retained for their conservation value. The ride management rotation will start to bring connectivity to the woodland which will be particularly beneficial for butterflies.
The areas selected for this year’s work have been prioritised as they are populated with dead or dying Ash as a result of Hymen scyphus Fraxinus (Ash dieback). It is important to remove the trees in the interest of safety as well as ensuring they still remain a marketable crop.
The intention is to stack the timber at roadside in small quantities – 30 m3 or 60m3. This will allow for greater competition in the market, enabling offers from buyers who may only be able to purchase in small quantities. Sales will take place as and when adequate quantities have been put to roadside.
Due to the site being Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland the approach to restocking will be natural regeneration.
In regard to safety. I have informed the Rights of Way team about the work and the footpaths likely to be affected. Warning signs will be at entrances to the site. Site users are asked to follow the safety instructions and to keep well clear of harvesting machinery.
“Woodlands at War: The impact and legacy of WW1 and WW2 on Britain’s Woodlands” talk by Clive Mayhew
Talk at Dallington Village Hall, Friday 6th August, 7 pm start. No entrance fee, but donations to cover the cost of refreshments would be welcome.
Description: The substantial contribution made by British woodlands over two world wars has been somewhat overlooked in subsequent histories. This talk looks at those pre-war woodlands,describes the extent of their contribution during these conflicts, and assesses its post war legacy. Continue reading “Woodlands at War Talk Friday 6th August 7pm”
(Posted on behalf of Doug Edworthy, Dallington Tree Warden)
As part of the Tree Council’s year-long Close the Gap programme, their Community Hedge Fund is now open for applications. They will be awarding grants of up to £2,500 for volunteer Tree Wardens and community groups to plant new hedgerows, hedgerow trees and to gap up existing hedgerows in rural and urban areas across England this winter.
The deadline for applications is Sunday 8 August 2021. Your planting will need to take place between November and January. You can find out more about the fund and apply on The Tree Council website
In our rural parish of Dallington we have some lovely examples of ancient and veteran trees dotted around our hedgerows, fields, and woods. These living ‘carbon lock-ups’ and special habitats for plants and animals are so very important to the environment and to us. Butin Dallington we don’t actually know how many we have, what condition they are in, or whether they are facing risks from disease or potential damage.
I’m proposing to establish a Dallington Tree Group with three straightforward objectives: –
1) Get to know what trees we have by doing a survey of the parish,
2) Use the data collected to create a register of the parish’s tree stock, and
3) Formulate proposals to Dallington Parish Council for a parish tree management plan.
The survey phase will take the longest to do, and will need the assistance of volunteers to walk footpaths, etc., to collect data on trees and, where access is possible, to take measurements. I’ll train any willing volunteers in the measurement and assessment techniques required – so don’t worry if you haven’t done a tree survey before – and it will be fun!
If you can join our group, whether as an active walker of rights of way, someone with existing knowledge of special trees in the parish, or someone with IT database or admin skills, please get in touch with me, Doug Edworthy, via the email address email@example.com or my mobile number 07711 090 925.
Doug Edworthy, our Dallington Tree Warden, will be holding a virtual webinar on 4th May, 3-4pm.
The subject for this webinar is ancient and veteran trees and will include a presentation about the ancient and veteran trees in Dallington Forest.
It is open to anyone with an interest in trees, just click on the link below to register.
The Bluebells are beginning to push their leaves above ground in preparation for the magnificent display they put on for us each year. But after seeing the recent damage to plants in Dallington Forest from off-road motor bikes I felt I should pen a short article about these beautiful flowers of ancient woodland.
Bluebells face two existential threats: competition with the more vigorous Spanish bluebell which has been escaping from gardens and hybridizing with our native species for 300 years, and the effects of change or disturbance (which is why they are an indicator of ancient, undisturbed woodland).
There is a real danger of losing the genetic integrity of one of our best-loved native wildflowers, not to mention the spectacular colour and scent, because our native bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) readily cross-breeds with both its Spanish cousin Hyacinthoides hispanica, often planted in gardens, and with the resulting fertile hybrid Hyacinthoides hispanica x non-scripta. But, do you know the difference between the species?
Native bluebellHyacinthoides non-scripta
This bulbous perennial, native to north-western Europe, seems to prefer slightly acidic soils and partial shade. Early in the growing season, they can be a dominant species in coppiced woods on light soils, but they are also found on hedge-banks and sea-cliffs.
The native bluebell’s deep violet-blue flowers have a strong sweet scent, the pollen is yellow and the flower stems droop or nod distinctively to one side.
White-flowered native bluebells are exceedingly rare. If you are tempted to take one home, please note: it’s against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy native bluebells.
Spanish bluebellHyacinthoides hispanica
This species, native to Portugal and western Spain, was first introduced in British gardens as an ornamental plant in the 1680s. It was favoured over the native because it can grow on almost any soil and has bolder blooms. It is a larger, more upright plant than the native bluebell. Its flowers range in colour from pale to mid blue, or white or pink, and has characteristically deep blue pollen but no scent. The Spanish bluebell was first recorded in the wild in the UK in 1909. This species is often confused with the hybrid and has therefore probably been over-recorded by botanists in the past.
Hybrid bluebellHyacinthoides hispania x non-scripta
The Spanish bluebell readily cross-breeds with the native bluebell to form the fully fertile hybrid. The hybrid was first recorded in the wild in the UK in 1963 and is also extremely common in gardens. Hybrid plants can demonstrate characteristics of both the native and Spanish bluebells.
What can we do about the non-native bluebells? Well, plant only native bluebells in your garden and be on the lookout for Spanish or Hybrid bluebells in the wild. If you find some, let me know and/or Sussex Wildlife Trust. Please don’t uproot them unless they are on your land, and then only if you are absolutely sure they aren’t native.
The other threat comes directly from the impact of us walking where bluebells grow and, unintentionally or not, damaging them. It’s against the law to intentionally pick, uproot or destroy native bluebells.
During their active phase, which runs from February through until the leaves have died back in Summer, they are extremely susceptible to damage from our boots. Treading on the soft, succulent leaves damages them so they can no longer photosynthesis and they die back. This reduces their ability to put food back into their bulbs, reducing the plants’ ability to produce flowers and seeds.
Also, soil compaction damages the bulbs so they won’t appear next year. You can see the effect of this along many woodland paths where not keeping to paths during the bluebell season has widened the paths as the bluebells recede.
Bluebell colonies take a long time to establish – around 5-7 years from seed to flower, and can take years to recover after footfall damage so please keep to paths and resist the temptation to step into the blue for a selfie or a photo opportunity. Your feet could be doing more damage than you realise.
Enjoy the sight and scent of these wonderful flowers and take care where you tread so they will still be carpeting our woodlands for future generations to marvel at.
(Posted on behalf of Doug Edworthy, Tree Warden/Champion, Dallington & Brightling)
For a number of years, the two parishes have shared one Tree Champion. But there is no limit on the number a parish can have. This was brought home to me recently during a zoom webinar on the new Rother Tree Champion scheme during which I discovered some areas have a half a dozen or more. There are so many things that need to be done in our parishes and I really need some help doing them.
Tree Wardens plant, protect and promote their local trees. No training or experience in tree management is needed – just a love of trees and a few hours to spare. Tree Wardens are organised into local groups. Each group is managed by a co-ordinator and is autonomous, meeting regularly to decide what they would like to focus on.
Some of the projects Tree Warden groups have done include:
Arranging local tree planting days
Pruning, watering and giving vital aftercare to local trees after planting Rejuvenating local woodlands in need of management Raising funds and identifying suitable land for local tree planting projects Going into schools to talk to young people about the value of trees.
To that list I would add:
Surveying the tree stock of the parishes so that informed decisions can be made about planning and other activities that impact our trees, and
Conducting guided walks for our parishioners.
Please get in touch if you think you could help (contact details below). You don’t have to be a tree expert (I’m not) – just enthusiastic!
Posted on behalf of Doug Edworthy (Tree Champion, Dallington and Brighton): We may not be able to restart group walks for a while due to COVID-19, so I’ve started putting together self-guided walks in the forest for people to use at their leisure. This is the first of (hopefully) many so I would really value your feedback on content, presentation and whether you found it helpful in guiding your walk.
Dallington Forest Walk No. 1 Ancient Forest Ghyll, Hollow Ways and the PoW Tree
On this walk you will experience one of Dallington Forest’s ancient woodland ghylls full of majestic veteran Beech trees, prehistoric rippled sandstone beds and the Prisoner of War tree, and also hollow ways formed by the feet of many millennia of travellers.
In Spring the ancient woodland ghyll is full of the sight and scent of stunningly beautiful bluebells and ransoms (wild garlic). The starting and finishing point is the end of the metalled surface of Bakers Lane, Dallington. This is also the junction of three footpaths and a bridleway. Unfortunately, there is no car park here or in Dallington Forest and the nearest public parking is the lay-by on the B2096 at Wood Corner.
Have you been thinking about planting some woodland or hedges on your land?
Our beautiful AONB in the High Weald is characterised by interlinked pockets of ancient woodland and small irregular-shaped fields and it is important to maintain and enhance this as much as possible. So, of course, it has to be ‘the right trees in the right places’.
Your Brightling and Dallington Tree Champion is seeking landowners with suitable land in Brightling and Dallington parishes that falls within the Dallington Forest Project area (see map above – larger version at end of this post) for planting-up of small woodlands or hedges. Dallington parishioner Jamie Simpson has a source of funding for the supply of native trees together with the necessary protection from rabbits and deer. The cost to landowners would be for planting labour and follow up aftercare necessary for successful establishment.
Suitable planting projects would be:
Creating new woodlands (with the proviso that important grassland or heathland habitat is not damaged or destroyed)
Creating new woodland to link existing pockets of ancient woodland
Filling gaps in neglected or poor condition hedges to restore them
Replacing some of the enormous number of hedges that were removed in the 20th century’s drive for bigger agricultural fields
Planted trees/hedges must be able to be appreciated by the public, so must be within sight of a road, right of way or on public land. Grants need to be applied-for during the summer so that the funding is available for an autumn/winter planting project.
If you are interested in this project please contact me as soon as possible.