Autumn colours in an ancient woodland for the Essex Volunteer Event
Volunteers based around East Anglia and close by attended a volunteer network event at the weekend. The get together was held on a sunny, autumnal day at the village of West Bergholt, Essex. Volunteers from 5 different woodland working groups attended and these groups carry out practical conservation activities at Hillhouse Wood and Swan and Cynet Wood, both in Essex, Abbey Grove and Northfeld Wood both in Suffolk and Tring Park in Hertfordshire. Many of the volunteers in these groups carry out additional volunteering roles, supporting the Woodland Trust as wardens, guided walk leaders and event volunteers. It was also lovely to meet volunteers who carry out non-site based roles, and roles represented on the day included mass engagement volunteers, an induction volunteer and a talking trees speaker.
The day kicked off with some volunteer updates and Jonathan Jukes, the new site manager for Essex introduced himself. The Treescape Development Lead for the Eastern Claylands, Edwin Van Ek, gave an interesting presentation about the Eastern Claylands project. Edwin described the Eastern Claylands landscape, showed the area that this project covers and outlined the project focus. The project highlights the need to plant lots of trees to make up for tree and hedgerow removal in the past and to mitigate for loss of trees due to tree diseases such as ash dieback. Nick Hall, the Health, Safety and Environment manager provided the volunteers with some useful information about toxic and poisonous plants, ticks and Lyme disease and the Oak Precessionary Moth Caterpillar. Nick has also written some new risk assessment templates for power tool use, photography and use of drones. These guidance notes and templates can be found in the library section of Whittle.
Following a nice lunch and time for networking the group headed out to explore nearby Hillhouse Wood. This is an ancient semi-natural woodland, made up of a mixture of hazel, ash, field maple, mature oak and sweet chestnut, to name a few tree species! The knowledgeable Hillhouse Wood volunteers led three groups around the wood. They told everyone about the management of the wood, the beautiful carpets of bluebells that spring up from the end of April and pointed out interesting wildlife species along the way. Thanks to the Hillhouse Wood group for this!
An excellent day enjoyed by all, thanks to everyone who attended!
Featured image and woodland images below: Edwin Van Ek
Conference and group images below: Amanda Bookes