Monthly Archives: December 2016

The Lilliputian world of leaf litter

The Nature Diary in the Guardian the other day had a feature on leaf litter which included a focus on silk button spangle galls (illustrated) from which tiny wasps will emerge in the Spring to lay eggs on oak trees:

“… looking closely at leaf litter, we soon find galls of two species of wasp, both of which are on fallen oak leaves.  At first sight one looks like a mass of moth eggs, lovely golden brown circles with a hollow in the middle.  These are silk button spangle galls, and each has a minute larva inside, which will develop during winter.  Looked at later under the microscope, they remind us of a scrumptious doughnut.”

Posted in: Latest News |

Happy Christmas from the Training Staff at the Forest of Avon Trust!

We’ve seen an unprecedented demand for our Forest School & Outdoor Learning Training Courses in 2016 and we are very much looking forward to training more of you in the future!

Having run accredited Forest School training since 2010, we pride ourselves on the training and support we have provided many teachers, nursery leaders, outdoor trainers, support workers and others.

We gather feedback after the courses and have loved reading your comments – some of which you can read below:

A huge thank you to Sara (who took Level 1, Outdoor First Aid & Level 3 with us this year), for sharing her wonderful photography.

“Enjoyable. Inspiring. Informative. Relaxed. Lovely venue. Everything we required was accessible. Trainer knew her subject very well and passed on her knowledge clearly. Loved the ‘learning by doing’ aspect.

Level 3 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“Overall it was a very enriching and fascinating week.” 

Level 3 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“I really enjoyed the applied practical element of the course – this made it so much better than other First Aid courses I have attended.”

ITC Outdoor First Aid Trainee, Oct 2016

 “It has been my First Aid course, so I found it truly interesting and helpful. The trainers were both knowledgeable and very kind, taking the time to ask us our impressions and feedback. The course was very well scheduled, altering outdoor and indoor sessions, and I particularly appreciated that we did a lot of practice. The First Aid Manual they gave us, is a great tool to keep and to study on.” 

ITC Outdoor First Aid Trainee, Oct 2016

“The venue was ideal – beautiful grounds and perfect location for Forest School training. The trainer – Jon, was excellent. He was patient, encouraging, knowledgeable and supportive. I fully enjoyed the course and would like to take it further….”

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“Had a fantastic two days. Clarified my thinking about what a Forest School is, the history and the ethos. Gave lots of ideas for activities in the forest, some new to me, some I’d seen before, but useful refresher. The course increased my confidence, made me realise what I knew already to some extent. I know it’s hard to cover all bases on a two day course but Jon built in lots of time to chat, exchange ideas, build relationships, he was friendly, approachable, adaptable, really good leader, thank you!”

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, Oct 2016

“Thank you so much for such an awesome 2 weeks, I truly cannot wait to get going with the next stage of my Forest School journey. The course was everything I wanted, and more. It’s one thing delivering a course to people attending because they need new skills and knowledge, it’s another delivering to those attending because they have a desire for it to be the start of something big and new, to change their path in life – and I know I speak for everyone when I say your approach, style and just general loveliness meant we are all on a solid track to doing just that!!!”

Level 3 Forest School Leader Trainee, July – Aug 2016  

“Very friendly, helpful trainer. Have lots of new ideas as well as gaining an insight into the administration/rules & regulations regarding Forest Schools. I am currently a parent volunteer and feel I am able to offer more within the Forest Schools sessions now – thank you.”

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, March 2016

“It was a wonderfully grounding experience and I can’t wait to share some of the activities with both my pupils and my own friends and children.

Level 1 Forest School Trainee, March 2016

Interested? In February 2017, we are offering: More »

Posted in: Latest News, Training activities | Tagged , , |

It was that sycamore …

The winner of the English tree of the year was a sycamore in Northumberland – the so-called Sycamore Gap tree Hadrian’s Wall, which is, it seems, famous for being in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Along the Wall, however, it’s just famous.

Meanwhile, the tree of the year in Wales was the Brimmon Oak which is also famous, this time for not being cut down to accommodate a by-pass.  Well done to both in every sense.


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

FSC Tree workshops

fsc-logoThe FSC council has a series of workshops  on natural history in early 2017.  Sadly, they are not in the Forest of Avon, but in London.  Here are the details anyway:

Introduction to Trees in Winter – Sat 25 February

Introduction to Coniferous Trees – Sat 18 March

Trees and Bees at Regents Park – Sat 13 May – Sun 14 May

Introduction to Broad-Leaved Trees – Sat 20 May  

Posted in: Latest News |

Tree of the year

On Saturday, the winning trees in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be announced by Ardal O’Hanlon on a Channel 4 documentary at 2000.

The winning tree in each country will benefit from a “Tree LC” care grant of £1,000, and all runners-up that received more than 1,000 votes will be eligible for a grant of £500.

The grant can be used to arrange a tree health check or advice from an arboriculturalist, provide interpretation or educational materials or simply just hold a celebratory event in honour of the tree.

Each country’s winning Tree of the Year will go on to represent that nation in the European Tree of the Year competition, organised by the Environmental Partnership Association.  You can see the trees shortlisted in England here.

Posted in: Latest News |

Not so good news about trees

Our positive National Forest story the other day about an extra 6.9 million trees over 25 years sits uneasily alongside today’s feature on what’s been termed the deforestation of the country.

The Guardian reports Austin Brady, the conservation director of the Woodland Trust, as saying:

“We are only planting 700 hectares (1,730 acres) a year, almost certainly less than we are felling.  Seven hundred hectares is well below the government and Forestry Commission aim of [planting] 5,000 hectares a year. In comparison, 2,400 hectares was planted in 2014-2015, but planting in England has been consistently low, at under 5,000 hectares a year since 2006.  We think we are losing trees faster than we are planting them. It is difficult to say exactly because the government does not hold records of all trees felled. But technically, we may be in a state of deforestation.  What is worrying is we have been planting mainly conifers and cutting down our native and ancient woodland. At a time when we are losing trees to tree diseases we are storing up ecological problems.”

Stuart Goodall, chief executive of Confor, the trade association for the UK forestry industry, said that the decline in tree planting means the government is almost certain to miss its manifesto commitment to plant 11m trees in the UK in the lifetime of this parliament.

“Only 1.35 million trees were planted in England in the 18-month period from April 2015 to September 2016. At this rate the 11 million tree target will not be hit until summer 2027, more than seven years late.”

These comments came ahead of a debate in Parliament on the issue.


Posted in: Latest News |

How millions of trees brought a broken landscape back to life

Here’s a good news report about trees that we missed earlier in the year.  It’s from The Guardian and reports the transformation of old coal mining and quarrying sites in the English Midlands including the planting of 6.9 million trees over the past 25 years..

The report 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.

Britain’s trees have come under increasing attack from exotic diseases, and the grants for planting woodland are drying up, so the 200 sq miles of the National Forest come as a welcome good news story.  The new woodland in the Midlands is proving that large-scale tree planting is not just good value for money, but can also have immense social, economic and ecological benefits.  In this one corner of the Midlands, more than 8.5m trees have been planted in 25 years, hundreds of miles of footpath have been created and 500 abandoned industrial sites have been transformed.  The landscape and ecology of semi-derelict Britain has been revived and rewilded with trees.  …

Posted in: Latest News |

Dementia Wellbeing Pilot Project

“If my son could see me now, he wouldn’t believe it”

People with dementia and their carers had the opportunity to try out a range of environmental art, woodcraft and outdoor cooking in the Forest of Avon Trust’s recent Woodland Wellbeing project.

The pilot project, in Conham River Park, arose from a partnership between Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service and the Forest of Avon Trust and ran for 12 weeks from late summer into the autumn, attracting a total of 17 participants.  Underpinned by the 5 Ways to Wellbeing (be active, connect, take notice, keep learning and give back), activities across the sessions included walks along the river and through the woods, environmental arts and crafts, making fires and cooking, chatting over a cup of tea or coffee and learning about wildlife.

Participants were accompanied by a close family member or a support worker and everyone could join in the activities as much or as little as they wanted. People got involved in sawing and drilling wood to make rustic items such as twig pencils, mallets and candle holders; making mosaics and bunting from found leaves and petals; or using natural inks with quills they’d made from feathers to write poems based on what they could see, hear and smell in the woodland environment. For others, it was enough to sit and watch.

Each week a member of the group would light the fire to boil water for hot drinks, and sitting around in a circle trying to guess which way the wind would blow the smoke became a regular focus of the group.  We did some foraging while on our walks, collecting sweet chestnuts to roast and blackberries which made a tasty accompaniment to home-made pancakes, while the final session featured more traditional outdoor snacks such as hot dogs and toasted marshmallows.

“There’s a wonder to it”

More »

Posted in: Our Projects, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged |

Free Trees for Primary Schools

The Forest of Avon Trust has teamed up with national charity: the Woodland Trust to provide a great FREE shrub/ tree offer to local primary schools.

The FREE tree packs contain 30 shrubs/ trees and you can choose between species suitable for a small hedgerow or copse, meaning that the many benefits of trees can be brought to your school, however small your space is; we also provide guidance to help you decide what is best. 

The packs of 20- 60cm shrubs/ trees are ideal for planting by school children and each comes with a spiral guard and cane for protection.    

The Forest of Avon Trust can advise on site suitability, planting density, species choice, longer- term care and how to get your free trees. 

The deadline to order this winter’s tree packs (up to 2 per school) is January 6th 2017, (for delivery and planting in March), so please get in touch with Anna Brunton for details of how to get them by emailing: or by calling  her on 0117 963 3383.

Posted in: Latest News, Our Projects, Outdoor Learning | Tagged , |

A Charter for Trees, Woods and People

Led by the Woodland Trust, more than 50 organisations across sectors, are calling for a Charter for Trees, Woods and People.  By collecting stories about what trees and woods mean to people, they intend to build a picture of their value to everyone in the UK.  These stories will be used to create a set of guiding principles, around which the charter will be written.  The final Charter for Trees, Woods and People will influence policy and practice and celebrate the role that trees and woods play in our lives.

The new charter launched on November 6th 2017, the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest.  There’s more detail here on how you can contribute.


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