New film ‘Saving our Oak’ highlights the challenge of Acute Oak Decline

The plight of our most iconic native tree, the oak, is the subject of a new film released by the charity, Woodland Heritage.

The film documents the challenge posed by Acute Oak Decline (AOD) to British oak trees.

The film gives thanks to past supporters showing snapshots of the research that their donations have made possible, but also highlights that despite great progress made, so much more needs to be learned, for which another urgent appeal is underway.

Attending an event to launch the film, Minister for Biosecurity Lord Gardiner of Kimble said:
“This film highlights some of the crucial research that is ongoing to counter Acute Oak Decline.

“This disease puts the majestic oak, our national tree, in jeopardy. It is vital that we develop further our knowledge of how to unlock the disease’s defences and tackle this threat.”

Acute Oak Decline (AOD) is a condition affecting several thousand oak trees, mostly across East Anglia, the Midlands and Southern England as far west as Somerset. It affects both of Britain’s native oak species: pedunculate or ‘English’ oak (Quercus robur) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea) as well as other species of oak.

AOD is characterised visually by dark fluid oozing from cracks in the bark, rapid decline of the tree, and the eventual death of affected trees. Death can occur within four or five years of symptoms first becoming visible. Many affected trees also have characteristically D-shaped exit holes of the buprestid, or oak jewel beetle, in the bark.

Woodland Heritage’s Chairman of Trustees, Lewis Scott said: “As with so much linking Woodland Heritage with the challenge of Acute Oak Decline, and developing management strategies to protect our oak, this film was the brainchild of the charity’s past Chairman and fellow Co-Founder of Woodland Heritage, Peter Goodwin. From the moment that Peter became aware of the threat that AOD posed to his beloved oak tree, now a decade or so ago, Peter headed a relentless campaign to highlight the risks and raise funds to help support research into understanding the causes and managing the problem. He was always the first to promote what could and should be done to reduce the threats; he was always focused on acting and not talking, with the results showing themselves so clearly in this inspirational film”.

The story told in ‘Saving our Oak’ is one of partnerships and collaboration towards a shared objective. Peter used his energy and vision to highlight the plight of the oak and to persuade donors to help this wonderful, iconic tree have a more secure future. But he left the science to Forest Research to co-ordinate, carry out and direct, always working with Dr Sandra Denman, who had shared Peter’s concerns about AOD from the outset.

“Combining the expertise and resources at Forest Research with new ones that we were able to harness at universities and research organisations thanks to the money that Peter secured, this has been such an inspirational example of a private-public partnership working to great effect”, said Dr Sandra Denman. “The special opportunity that the charitable funding afforded us was to be nimble in response to research needs, able to widen our collective knowledge and better understand, and so manage this disease, in the future”.

Many of the scientists involved in the research are doctoral or post-doctoral researchers and their studies are showcased in the film using a holistic multi-disciplinary approach tackling topics as diverse as predisposition, soils, biogeochemistry, tree genetics and metabolomics, dendrochronology and chemical ecology, which are the factors that are increasingly recognised as contributing to the spread of AOD.

“It takes time and resource to carry out research that leads to greater scientific understanding and practical solutions, but the investment that Woodland Heritage and associated charities have made in this are starting to yield important results that are vital stepping stones to the solutions. Our future research programme lays out a path that we believe will help AOD to be further understood and better managed”, added Dr Denman.

Over £2m has been raised so far by Woodland Heritage towards research into AOD, but further studies to a value in excess of £1m are needed. To help these get underway, donations are being sought towards Woodland Heritage’s AOD Appeal and can be made via

http://www.woodlandheritage.org/images/stories/wh/downloads/wh_aod_appeal.pdf.

 

Woodland Into Management Event at the Green Wood Centre

It was great to play host to yet another sold out event and the engagement and enthusiasm was evident for all to see.  A great deal of positive heat was generated, despite the low temperatures.

An immense amount of learning was on offer on the day around the twin themes of collaboration and management.  In addition to the planned sessions on grants and tree diseases and practical demonstration of management equipment and techniques, attendees also raised practical questions about felling licences and woodland management plans, as well as our Welsh participants needing more information about what is the same and what is different on either side of the Dyke.

We concluded that there is now even more evidence of the need to manage woodlands and the benefits that follow, given the results of George Peterken’s work and equally that there is practical advice and guidance on hand for woodland owners and managers.  There is plenty to worry about in terms of tree diseases, however, a sensible informed approach would lead owners and managers to address only the most pressing risks directly, whilst accepting that our woods are changing and that other species will replace those we lose.  The choice for owners is when to act, however, even if you don’t act, prepare for change.

We devoted a lot of time to the grants on offer. Now is clearly the time to get plans into order for the various grants that are on offer, both through Countryside Productivity Grants in England and Glastir in Wales, with Leader grants also being available on both sides of the border.  It is too early to tell what might be available after Brexit, but what we can be sure of is that the grants on offer now are at least as good as they have been for some time and that the longer term is less certain.

Finally, we would like to thank Forestry Commission for their support and without whom the event would not have been possible.

We would also like to thank Paula Griffiths RPA, Simon James, Barnaby Wilder, Danielle Lea-Smith and Nick Smith from Forestry Commission, Pete Banford Shropshire LEADER, Neill Mapes, Richard Thomason, Kieran Leigh-Moy, Stuart Zlotowski, Richard Bowness from Truncator, Dave Philips Deer cuisine and Steve Hall from Stihl.

 

We welcome new staff joining our team in Wales – December 2017

New Staff join Coed Lleol and the Actif Woods Project – December 2017

The Small Woods Association in Wales (Coed Lleol) are pleased to welcome 3 new members of staff to the team. This is thanks to funding from the Active Inclusion Fund, managed by Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA)

In this newsletter we let Alyson, Melissa and Nico introduce themselves.

SOUTH WALES CO-ORDINATOR: 

Alyson Jenkins, South Wales Coordinator

I’m Alyson Jenkins and as the South Wales coordinator for Coed Lleol/ Small Woods, I will be overseeing the Swansea, Neath Port Talbot, Merthyr and Treherbert areas, focusing on the European funded Active Woods project and working in partnerships with a wide range of organisations. I have worked in a diverse range of roles including: environmental education with the Wetlands Trust and the RSPB, adult education, project management, community dance and health science research manager. A native of South Wales and a Welsh speaker, I now live in Swansea. Completing a part-time PhD in Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship has kept me very busy, but I love distractions such as walking, swimming, music (listening and learning to play the piano) and reading. I always have time for my young grandson, two daughters and my friends. I am looking forward to discovering new woodlands in South Wales, getting to know everyone and play a part in this brilliant organisation.  You can contact me on alysonjenkins@smallwoods.org.uk

Melissa Dhillon, Woodland Activity Mentor for Gwynedd

GWYNEDD:

I’m Melissa Dhillon, Actif Woods Wales’ new Woodland Activity Mentor for Gwynedd.  I live in North Wales, and I have been working as a Forest School Leader and involved in woodland based projects for a number of years.  I’m really looking forward to meeting the groups and leaders that are currently involved in Actif Woods Wales projects, and am in the process of setting up new projects, in North Gwynedd; we’re planning a stakeholder day on the 8th January.  If anyone would like to get in touch, my e-mail address is –  actifwoodsgwynedd@smallwoods.org.uk

TREHERBERT:

Nico Jenkins, Actif Woods Mentor for Treherbert and Rhondda Cynon Taf

Hello I’m Nico Jenkins is the new Actif Woods Mentor for Treherbert and Rhondda Cynon Taf. I have a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Conservation and Land Management. My career so far has comprised of either supporting vulnerable individuals or environmental work, therefore combining the two on the Actif Woods project is a perfect combination. I’m passionate about mental health and believe that the outdoors and nature have a vital role to play in our mental and physical well-being. I am currently developing a partnership with the well-established ‘Welcome to our Woods’ in Treherbert and am looking forward to supporting individuals to access and gain benefits from the outdoors. The new Actif Woods 12 week programmes In Rhondda Cynon Taff will help individuals to meet new people, gain new skills and hopefully enhance their physical and mental well-being and nurture a love for the woods! If anyone would like to get in touch, my e-mail address is –  actifwoodstreherbert@smallwoods.org.uk

 

Actif Woods Wales woodland health and well-being programmes run in Ceredigion, Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil, Gwynedd, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Swansea. We also work in Wrexham and Flintshire.

For more information on these programmes, or if you are interested in working with Actif Woods or in the training on offer please contact amieandrews@smallwoods.org.uk