Monthly Archives: August 2016

Natural Connections

What do the following have in common?

Lunar Thorn  Selenia lunularia
Privet Hawk-moth  Sphinx ligustri
Ash Bud Moth  Prays fraxinella
Brick  Agrochola circellaris
Mottled Beauty  Alcis repandata
Lilac Beauty  Apeira syringaria
Twin-spotted Quaker  Orthosia munda
Brown Oak Tortrix  Archips crataegana
Variegated Golden Tortrix  Archips xylosteana
Centre-barred Sallow  Atethmia centrago
Tawny Pinion  Lithophane semibrunnea
Ash-bark Knot-horn  Euzophera pinguis
Ash Pug  Eupithecia innotata f. fraxinata
November Moth  Epirrita dilutata
Dusky Thorn  Ennomos fuscantaria
Coronet  Craniophora ligustri
Privet Twist  Clepsis consimilana
Common Slender  Caloptilia syringella
Feathered Slender  Caloptilia cuculipennella
Brown Ash Ermel  Zelleria hepariella

Although it sounds a bit like an Oxbridge entry exam question, the clues are in the English names … They are all moths – ones native to the UK.  More than that, they are the moths that use the Ash as a foodstuff.  This picture is of the Dusky Thorn.  The Wildlife Trusts say that at least 60 of the rarest insect species in Britain have an association with ash – mostly rare beetles and flies.

The Wildlife Trusts website has an informative section on the Ash and Ash dieback, which is where this detail comes from.


Posted in: Latest News, Safeguarding our Trees | Tagged |

Should ancient woodland have statutory legal protection

There has been a petition in parliament for the last 6 months to give ancient woodland legal protection.  It expired on August 29th with only around 16,000 signatures, well below the 100,000 needed for debate.

The petition said:

“In the UK it has been said that we are down to just 2% of our total land space covered by ancient woodland which is widely regarded as one of our most important wildlife habitats yet it’s still under threat.  If landowners don’t protect this land they should be made to sell it to someone who will.  Ancient woodland is an important store of seeds and invertebrates needed for potential rewildling & flood prevention as described by George Monbiot & the Woodland Trust in their various campaigns. While saplings have been planted in offsetting schemes, these young trees take a long time to reach maturity and the ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere that mature trees in ancient woodland can. It also requires a lot of work for these plantations to reach the same conservation value.”

The response from DEFRA said:

“Woodland cover in England is at its highest level since the 14th century. The National Planning Policy Framework provides strong protection for ancient woodlands.  Our ancient woodlands are highly valued and cherished, and are a resource rich in life, providing homes and food for animals, birds and insects. They store carbon, produce oxygen and filter out pollution; they also provide some of the most interesting places for us to enjoy. We know that ancient woodlands are an irreplaceable habitat, which is why we recognise their special status in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which was last updated in 2012.

Since the Second World War, great efforts have been made to restore and actively manage our ancient woodlands. The ancient woodland inventory estimates approximately 340,000 hectares of woodland in England that is ancient. Subsequent estimates suggest that there are about 210,000 hectares of native woodland not on ancient woodland sites. Taken together, those two categories of woodland comprise just over half of England’s woodlands, at about 550,000 hectares.

Although we have ambitions to increase woodland cover and improve the quality of our woodland management, we must be mindful that those ambitions sit alongside a need to increase food production, create renewable energy and capture carbon, while also maintaining the habitats that our wildlife depends on, such as our ancient woodlands. In order to compete globally economically, we need to update and upgrade our ageing infrastructure and ensure that development enables our economic growth to be sustained.

We have, however, always made a special case for our ancient woodland, which is why they are protected in the NPPF. The passage that deals with them clearly states:

Planning permission should be refused for development resulting in the loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and … veteran trees … unless the need for, and benefits of, the development in that location clearly outweigh the loss”.

The position is very clear: there is protection. The Government certainly has no plans to undermine or change that position; figures from the Woodland Trust itself suggest that less than 0.25% of ancient woodland has been developed in the last 15 years, which indicates that this protection is working. Nevertheless, Natural England has been working with the Forestry Commission to produce refreshed guidance for all planning authorities to help them take full and proper account of ancient woodland in the planning process. This outlines a range of mitigation and compensation measures that may be offered by developers to offset loss or damage, where developments affecting ancient woodland and veteran trees may receive planning permission.

In addition to this, England’s woodland coverage is as high as it has been since the 14th century, totaling a little more than 1.3 million hectares, which equates to 41% of the UK total or 10% of England’s land area. We have a commitment to plant a further 11 million trees before the end of this Parliament.

We recognise that this issue is complex and we are continually striving to improve the operation of planning protections for ancient woodlands. The challenges we face today are totally different from the challenges of even 20 years ago, which is why we need to balance woodland interests with our wider competing land use requirements. The Government considers that the existing protection for ancient woodland in the NPPF is strong and is protecting our ancient woodlands and veteran trees.


Given our love of trees, it might seem odd that this petition has gathered so few signatures.  Could it be that what it proposed was seen as too draconian, or was the DEFRA response to the case just persuasive?



Posted in: Latest News |

Calling all Bristol Allotment Holders

Ashmeads Kernel c.Trees for Life

We  are delighted to have teamed up with Bristol City Council’s Allotments Team for the fifth year running.

Once again we can offer discounted, high quality, 3 year old potted fruit trees. Whilst allotment holders are limited to dwarfing root-stocks, we can still offer a huge range of  fruit trees and bushes in many varieties.

Trees and bushes are available for collection from Ashton Court in early November 2016 and early March 2017. (A total of 6 dwarfing fruit trees are allowable on an allotment.)

Interested? All you have to do is click: FoA-Trust-Quality-Fruit-Tree-List-2016_17 to download the list, check the varieties and tree forms you want are available on the following rootstocks and email with your tree and/ or bush order. We will confirm availability and let you know payment and collection details.

Rootstocks for allotments

Apples: M27 and M9; Pears/ Quinces: Quince C; Plums/ Damsons/ Gages/ Mirabelles/ Peaches on VVA-1; Cherries: Gisela 5; Apricots on Torinel.

Tree forms for allotments

Most forms (shapes) of trees are allowable provided they are on an approved rootstock (above). As a general rule espaliers and fan- trained trees are not suitable for allotments, as many are grown on more vigorous rootstocks. 

Please also contact us for your garden fruit and ornamental trees.

Posted in: Garden Forest & Allotment Orchard, Latest News | Tagged , |

A new era of restoration

The Wildlife Trusts website has a feature article on the place of woods and forests in its vision of a living landscape.  This, it says, is a recovery plan for nature which involves enlarging, improving, creating and joining up wildlife-rich areas of land to create a connected ecological network across the UK.  Woodlands are a key part of that network.

The Wildlife Trusts are looking to a new era of restoration.  They that there are still many thousands of hectares of conifer plantations on former ancient woodland sites and internationally important open habitats such as peatland – and that there are 50-60,000 ha of plantations on high value wildlife sites within England’s public forest estate.

As the Forest of Avon Trust knows, these represent huge potential for large-scale habitat restoration.  The work that we and others have already carried out has demonstrates that it can be done.



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Problems of the Plane Tree

The Arboricultural Association website has a link to a story in the Telegraph about problems with the Plane tree across parts of the continent.  The article says that it’s only a matter of time before plane tree wilt (canker stain) reaches Britain.  The disease is currently spreading north through France and is reported to have reached Paris.  It has already wrecked parts of the Canal du Midi in southern France.

Posted in: Latest News, Safeguarding our Trees | Tagged , |

What are your elms like this summer?

It seems to have been a bad summer for the elm across southern England.  Wherever there is elm, there are the tell-tale signs of attack by the elm bark beetle with shriveled brown leaves and bent-over branches standing out against the green hedge background.  From being green and healthy-looking in May and June, during July and August the elm gradually fell victim to the fungus the beetle carries.

To try to stop the fungus spreading, the tree blocks the vessels within the wood that carry water and nutrient, causing tissues to die.  So, just when the elm was fighting back, it’s had another knock, and the cycle of attack – recovery – attack – recovery … continues.  Curiously, however, as Mark Cocker has pointed out in his Spectator review of Fiona Stafford’s book: The Long, Long Life of Trees, this is not so much a story of decline, as one of survival.  Thankfully, we have not seen the last of the elm, although the industrial use of elm is not what it was at its height.  Elm wood is strong, durable and resistant to water.  Traditionally it was used to make furniture, floorboards, boats, wheel hubs, water pipes, troughs, coffins and lavatory seats.  Odd then, perhaps, that it has a reputation for not generating much heat as this old rhyme reminds us:

Apple wood will scent your room,
with incense-like perfume;
Oak and maple, if dry and old,
keep away the winter’s cold;
Ash wood wet or ash wood dry,
a king will warm his slippers by; but
Elm burns like the graveyard mould,
even the very flames are cold!


Posted in: Latest News, Safeguarding our Trees | Tagged , |

The Long, Long Life of Trees

The Guardian has a feature article by Fiona Stafford, whose book: The Long, Long Life of Trees, has just been published.  We suspect that no one reading this blog undervalues the life of trees, or is ignorant of their longevity.  However, judging by all the positive reviews, there’s a lot to appreciate and enjoy in Stafford’s book.  It is available at


Posted in: Latest News |

Bringing a broken landscape back to life

The Guardianhas a long feature on the national forest: How millions of trees brought a broken landscape back to life.  This begins:

“Twenty-five years ago, the Midlands villages of Moira, Donisthorpe and Overseal overlooked a gruesome landscape.  The communities were surrounded by opencast mines, old clay quarries, spoil heaps, derelict coal workings, polluted waterways and all the other ecological wreckage of heavy industry.  The air smelt and tasted unpleasant and the land was poisoned.  There were next to no trees, not many jobs and little wildlife.  Following the closure of the pits, people were deserting the area for Midlands cities such as Birmingham, Derby and Leicester.  The future looked bleak.  Today, a pastoral renaissance is taking place.  Around dozens of former mining and industrial communities, in what was the broken heart of the old Midlands coalfield, a vast, splendid forest of native oak, ash and birch trees is emerging, attracting cyclists, walkers, birdwatchers, canoeists, campers and horse-riders.

… and continues with lots of detail.  Read on …





Posted in: Latest News |

Earth Overshoot Day, 2016

Earth Overshoot Day is the day in the year when our demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network [GFN], an international think tank that coordinates research, develops methodological standards and provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.

GPN says:

“To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint.  The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot.  Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365.

When the idea was first developed, Overshoot Day was in October; in 2016, it’s today – August 8th.  Soon it will be in July.

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Take us with you wherever you go!

The Forest of Avon Trust’s website is now mobile and tablet friendly: thanks to James Guest of JG Digital for all of his work on this.

Our tree sales, accredited training, farm advisory and other services will now be available wherever you are (but please do not log on when you are on holiday: we all need a break).

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