Ashing Lane Nature Reserve – NWT October 2014 Update

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Generally the Ashing Lane Nature Reserve (ALNR) is developing well with light touch maintenance the priority now.  The one heavier task was in the All Abilities Area (AAA) pond, which is still leaking through one of the vestigial drainage systems in the field. However, the sump area has still retained its water despite the driest September since records began, and so in recent weeks we have reshaped the landscape to create a larger wetland area.

hornets

The Ashing Lane Nature Reserve now has resident populations of small mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles and birds, the latter including a buzzard on a regular basis. The decision of a colony of hornets to nest in the main threshold has caused small difficulties as a small number of visitors have been stung, but as this is a nature reserve rather than a suburban garden or a sanitized theme park, humans have to fit in with residents rather than the other way round.  There are alternative ways into the South Wood. Incidentally as this newsletter is being prepared, the hornets have turned their attention to some ash trees near the car-park and are stripping bark from ash trees in order to extract the sap.  Although unrelated to the hornets, the ash trees are a matter of local and national concern.

Ash dieback – chalara fraxinea  –  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara  – The next section is based on an email sent to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, the owners of Monks Wood, by Rod Newborough, our Forestry Adviser.

We have known since last year that the Ash trees in Monks Wood have been showing the initial signs of Ash Dieback, chalara fraxinea.  A few weeks ago a Forestry Commission pathologist inspected the woodland and has now confirmed that, sadly, Monks Wood is infected with the disease. We would add that our ash trees came from two different UK sources.

As a response to the national threat caused by chalara, the Forestry Commission have created a Plant Health Woodland Improvement Grant designed to enable land managers to remove diseased trees which pose a threat through the wider spread of the disease.

Nettleham Woodland Trust has decided to support this national initiative and undertake remedial action.  In practice, this means removing all of the planted ash throughout Monks Wood. We have therefore applied for the Plant Health Woodland Improvement Grant.

The initial ash planting covered approx. 20% of the area, 3.7 ha. (5000 trees)  However, there has been a considerable amount of natural regeneration throughout the woodland, mostly willows, birch and alder.  This regeneration can count towards the replacement of the ash.

Our intention therefore, if successful with the grant application, is to;

  • remove all the planted ash by cutting off the stem at ground level.
  • replant with alternative species, if there is no natural regeneration nearby. Replanting to be completed before end of April 2015.
  • spot spray newly planted trees in the early summer of 2015 and at same time kill the severed ash by spraying the regrowth from the cut stump.

The Forestry Commission has stated we can replant with non-native species, however we would not want to include invasive species such as Sycamore.  Our proposed list of trees is small-leaved lime, alder, aspen, sweet chestnut and birch, with a few walnut.

This is obviously not good news and will involve NWT and its supporters in a major replanting operation in February-March 2015.  There will certainly be plenty of fresh air and exercise waiting for volunteers in a few months time after the worst of the winter, so please prepare for some planting days.

Thank you for your continuing support.

Best wishes

Chris Williams, Chairman, Nettleham Woodland Trust

Supporters’ Secretary:  Elizabeth Hipgrave

General matters: members@nettlehamwoodlandtrust.co.uk

[Source: NWT Newsletter]