Some recent projects and activities

TREE WALK WITH MEOPHAM AND DISTRICT WALKING GROUP, September 2017

A really enjoyable and successful walk in the truly lovely countryside of NorthWest Kent, over 30 participants and a very interesting walk indeed. This was such a lovely write-up!

Tree walk with Meopham and District Walking Group - part 1

ASH DIEBACK UPDATE, December 2016

Excellent article in Nature about the Ash Tree Genome sequencing. Apparently Ash is a tree VERY different genetically from most other trees, and UK trees might carry quite a bit of resistance to Chalara – but be susceptible to the future-possible invader Emerald Ash Borer – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38416116 – so Tree Wardens active in their local communities are needed more than ever!

Rapid developments in genetics are being developed specifically for Chalara, which may well be extremely useful in understanding wider disease resistance issues in the future, suggested to be called Associative Transcriptomics, http://www.nature.com/articles/srep19335

KENT’S CHURCHYARD YEWS

Do you know how many yews there are in Kent churchyards that are either veteran (over 500 years old or ancient (over 800 years old)? Check the following list out to find the nearest ones to you (list drawn from Church of England lists of the Diocese of Rochester and Canterbury): Old Yew trees in Kent churchyards

TREES THAT COULD POSE HAZARDS. A “hazardous trees” day was run by Kent Heritage Trees Project in Mote Park on Sunday the 15th May, 2016, and we hope to run the course regularly in the future for Tree Wardens and others interested. The event was run excellently by Nick Gallavin. The emphasis was on a balanced approach to assessing risk and appropriate management. The risks that trees pose are often exaggerated, and the land owners’ or occupiers’ responsibility is to act to minimise risk to a reasonable degree. After a clear and thorough introduction to the subject we spent a fascinating time looking at the trees in the very busy park and trying to assess if any of them posed a risk to park users, and if so how the risk could be managed.

Mote Park hazardous trees 2016-05-15 1

POND FAUNA. Our annual pond fauna, “Pond Survey, Amphibia and Invertebrates” course was held on Saturday the 23rd of April. Tutor Phil Buckley helped us with the trickier aspects of identification of pond invertebrates using a binocular-microscope, and tutor Mike Phillips expertly taught us the finer points of newt and other amphibian identification involving the very careful use of torches in the ponds around the centre at Singleton.

20160423_212923 Smooth Newt male Singleton c12e

NATIONAL CHALARA CONFERENCE. Kent Tree Warden David Carey attended this two day conference in Coventry, and the current theme is this: Chalara is still here and making steady progress across the whole country. Trees may take many years to die, and an unknown proportion may  be resistant, survive and form the nucleus of a resistant population – if the disease does not mutate and evolve aggressively, a new equilibrium may eventually be established – but the process meanwhile will be chronically damaging and costly in a great number of ways.  The picture in West Kent is that the first stages of Chalara can be seen in almost every area, but individual trees often show only slow disease progression year on year – so far!

HEDGEROWS. A hedgerow survey and management training day was held at Bough Beech Nature Reserve near Sevenoaks on a soft autumn afternoon, on Saturday the 12th of September, before a fantastic introduction to Bats, see later. The day was very stimulating, and re-invigorated our ideas on hedges, maintenance, renovation and planting. Before any new hedge is planted in Kent, or extensive renovation work carried out, a careful survey of the existing remaining hedgerows in the locality should really be undertaken. Watch this space for further work on Kent hedgerows, or contact David if you are doing some hedge work or creation locally.

The programme for that introductory day is here – KTPP Hedgerow Survey and Bat Ecology Course 12.09.2015, and we hope to follow this up with further hedgerow events and activity as soon as practical. Hedgerow surveys have been carried out on a huge scale in Suffolk (very jealous!) and more locally in the past in the Canterbury area by the MVCP and in the Lower Medway Valley by the Kent Wildlife Trust in the “Valley of Visions” project. If you are interested in your area’s hedgerows why not contact your local volunteer tree warden, and have a think about what could be organised in your community? How much ancient or species-rich hedgerow do you have in your town or parish, and how should it be safeguarded?

Thanks so much to Lynne and Peter Flower for such a useful day. Lynne and Peter are the reserve wardens at Bough Beech Nature Reserve, run by the Kent Wildlife Trust, and the centre/cafe is well worth a visit, in the heart of the Low Weald, a character area which contains the highest proportion of ancient and species rich hedges in Kent. Bring your binoculars and camera!

And finally, thanks to Anne for the superb cakes!

Looking at a young hedgerow at Bough Beech
Looking at a young hedgerow at Bough Beech

PONDS. A Pond Flora and Management training day held at Vinter’s Valley in Maidstone on a lovely sunny morning, on Saturday the 18th of July was well attended, and highly beneficial to the Pond Wardens and others lucky enough to be there –  many of us entirely re-examining our basic aims and practices of pond creation and management! If you missed it, you missed an absolute treat! The programme of the day is here –  KTPP Pond Survey Flora Training Programme July 2015.

Thanks so much to Lynne Flower and Steve Songhurst for such a stimulating programme. Lynne provided the botanical expertise and Steve is the reserve warden at Vinters Valley Nature Reserve, which is a charity, not run by any Council or larger organisation, and well worth a visit in the heart of Maidstone. Pond wardens and other attendees had a great picnic to round the day off, and went away refreshed, in so many ways!

Sedges have edges and rushes are round, but what has arrived at the corner of this new pond, can you tell?
Sedges have edges and rushes are round, but what has arrived at the corner of this new pond, can you tell?

SHARING IDEAS AND PLANNING FOR TREES. The South East Regional Tree Wardens Forum was held in Kent in September 2014, hosted by the Kent Tree and Pond Wardens, and was a great success, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Tree Council and the 25th anniversary of one of the very early pilot projects of Tree Wardening, in Kent. Click on the first (or any) picture to see these thumbnail images from the 2014 SE conference much more clearly, as a slide-show