Friday 23 November 2012

National Tree Week

Saturday 24th November - Sunday 2nd December

Recent events have confirmed that the view across the countryside and in our towns is set to change faster than anyone could have expected.  In recent years, pests and diseases have started to threaten some of our most loved trees, such as oak and horse chestnut, but the spread of Chalara fraxinea (ash dieback) and the anticipated devastation of the UK population of ash trees has left everyone considering what the next steps should be. 

National Tree Week was launched in 1975 to maintain the tree planting momentum to replace the losses resulting from Dutch elm disease, which had already wiped out more than 20 million of our most significant landscape trees.  The Tree Council has run the festival every year since, encouraging everyone to celebrate the tree planting season in a variety of ways, not least of which is by planting more trees.  This year, once again, the landscape is being altered. We are facing losses that will change the view out of our windows, from town pavements, country footpaths and across fields and woods. Since trees make a difference to so many aspects of life, wildlife and biodiversity – and that includes people – will be affected. We need to act to change our view, both figuratively and literally.

“Anyone with land of their own, whether a garden, woodland or field, can make a difference to their view by adding a tree”, said Pauline Buchanan Black, Director-General of The Tree Council. “This year, though, the campaign carries particular significance as we look for ways to minimise the impact of ash dieback and carefully consider what to plant. Rising concern about tree diseases has also reminded us of the importance of checking not only where the seed of their tree started life, but also where it was germinated and grown. Not since Plant A Tree in ’73 has there been the same urgency to safeguard a view for the future”.

Alasdair Douglas, Chair of The Tree Council, added “It is almost exactly 40 years since Secretary of State for the Environment Peter Walker stood up in the House of Commons and announced that the following year was to be designated National Tree Planting Year. This was the Government initiative to encourage the planting of new trees to replace those millions killed by Dutch Elm Disease. The Tree Council was formed from that initiative and has been running National Tree Week ever since. We couldn’t have foreseen that we’d be faced with the losses from a tree disease of similar epidemic proportions just as we go in to National Tree Week but this seems a timely moment to ask the public to think carefully about what will happen to their view and what they will do to restore it for future generations.”

Visit The Tree Council's website for details of local events and tips on tree planting and aftercare. Event information is also available from the Tree Council infoline, 020 7940 8180 (during office hours).

Thursday 15 November 2012

500 Bluebell Bulbs

The final event in our celebrations for Cheshire Wildlife Trust's 50th birthday took place on Sunday 11th November, when 500 native bluebell bulbs were planted at New Ferry Butterfly Park. It sounds a lot - but fourteen people got stuck in and all the bulbs were planted in 45 minutes! Many thanks to Wirral Countryside Volunteers, who had cleared undergrowth from the hazel coppice and hawthorn copse in readiness. Next year should see some of them flower, hopefully just in time for our Open Day to start the summer's openings, planned for 5th May 2013. The display will get better each year, with a particular flush of flowers a year after the coppice is cut for hedging stakes, letting more light onto the bluebells. The bulbs were funded by a "Your Wirral" grant for Wirral Borough Council - thank you to the Bromborough Area Forum.

Wirral's Year of Coast and Countryside is also drawing to a close. A big Thank You to all our leaders for the walks and plantings. However, the guided walks were so good we are going to repeat some over the next few years, starting with a Bluebell Walk on Saturday 11th May in Dibbinsdale, meeting 10 a.m. at Bromborough Rake Station, as part of Wirral BC's Walking Festival. Look out for more events next year.

Dibbinsdale Winter Warmer

The Friends of Dibbinsdale have organised a Winter Warmer event for Saturday 8th December.
"We will be having a BBQ and hot drinks will also be available.
Activities and Crafts on display will include:
Willow seasonal wreath making -  have a go at making your own Christmas decorative wreath.
Christmas decoration making for children - paint your own wooden Santa Christmas tree decoration.
Visit the ‘Bodgers’ outdoor workshop and see how freshly felled wood can be turned using the traditional shave-horse and pole-lathe.
Pottery painting - paint and buy your own pottery (to be confirmed)
We hope Santa will be able to drop in to meet and bring good cheer to our younger visitors (oh .. ok then, to all our visitors).
Access -  Parking is available for about 25 cars, in the main car park. There is a bus stop at the Spital Road / carpark entrance ( Routes 85, 219 and 419).  Come on foot if you can and enjoy a stroll through the park to see the newly established bird feeding station and the latest improvements  both in and around Woodslee Pond."
More information about the group can be found on their website -

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Chalara Action Plan

Image: FERA

Defra has published its Chalara Action Plan, setting out the ways the Government plans to tackle the disease.

These include:
  • Newly-planted diseased trees and diseased trees in nurseries will be traced and destroyed, as once young trees are infected they succumb quickly.
  • Mature trees will not currently be removed, as they are valuable to wildlife, take longer to die and can help us learn more about genetic strains that might be resistant to the disease. Infection does not occur directly from tree to tree.
  • Better understanding of the disease will be built through research and surveys, which will look not only for diseased trees but for those that show signs of genetic resistance to Chalara, to help identify genetic strains resistant to the disease.
  • The search for the disease will include trees in towns and cities as well as the countryside, building partnerships with a range of organisations beyond Government.
  • Foresters, land managers, environment groups and the general public will be informed about how to identify diseased trees and those likely to be resistant to the disease, and know what to do if they find a diseased tree.
More information can be found on the Defra website.

Friday 9 November 2012

Ash dieback update

Image courtesy of Fera

There are two trees on Wirral that are currently being investigated for ash dieback disease.

If you see an ash tree with suspicious symptoms, please contact the Forestry Commission.

Younger trees are more susceptible.

However, on mature trees, the leaves will be crisping up ready to fall and any ash keys (seeds) will be brown in any case. This is normal.

The important thing to look for is the tell tale triangular mottling below a bud or smaller branchlet junction, or if more advanced stretching up and down the branch's bark, and if you split the wood some discolouration of the water carrying tissues.

If you think you have spotted the disease, please check the symptoms video and pictorial guide from the Forestry Commission website before reporting it by telephone or email (further details below).

It is best to leave all material in place and report any suspected sightings for an inspection.

Take photos and send these to the email address below.

In England and Wales:
Chalara helpline - 08459 33 55 77 (open 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. every day)

Updates on the disease will be posted on the Forestry Commission website