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Kidmore End Parish Council

  • Cane End
  • Chalkhouse Green
  • Gallowstree Common
  • Kidmore End
  • Tokers Green

The countryside

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Road verges are one of the most important, best loved and frequently viewed habitats in the country... So why are they still being destroyed?

A new Plantlife study shows that Britain's road verges are home to 703 species of wild plants, more than in any other part of our landscape, and 87 of them are either threatened with extinction or heading that way. In addition, 88% of these wild plants provide nectar and pollen for bees and other insects, making road verges essential refuges for insect life; bird's-foot trefoil alone is a food plant for 132 species of insect.

In addition, 21 of the 25 Nation's Favourite Wildflowers grow on road verges. From cowslips and bluebells in spring to swathes of cow parsley and ox-eye daisies in early summer, our verges are home to most of the 25 favourite wild flowers as voted for by the public. And with 30 million drivers in the UK, they're the most frequently viewed habitat too, providing many people with their only regular daily contact with nature.

But in much of Britain road verges are still being needlessly cut down in full flower threatening the wildflowers and the wildlife that depend on them. Many councils have already started cutting verges – much too early in the year for flowers to be able set seed, and greatly reducing one of the most important food banks for our ailing bees and other pollinators.

Dr Trevor Dines, Plantlife's Botanical Specialist, explains, "Over 97% of meadows have been destroyed in England since the 1930s. In many areas, rural road verges are the last remaining stretches of natural habitat for our wildlife. Road safety is the absolute priority, but we know that verges can be managed better for wildlife whilst remaining safe for motorists. This means adopting some simple changes to management – like a delay in cutting to allow seed to be set – so that wildflowers can thrive".

Plantlife has produced new management guidelines and is urging the public to sign a petition asking local councils to adopt them. Some councils are leading the way. Trials in Dorset, for example, are investigating how to combat the over-vigorous growth of grass on fertile verges (which is both detrimental to wildflowers and obscures driver sight-lines), by stripping turf, using semi-parasitic yellow rattle to stunt grass growth and even grazing verges with sheep. Plantlife is helping to showcase the work of councils like Dorset to show others that it can be done. Our guidelines are being currently being applied to 11,700 km of verge covering 2,300 hectares of verges – that's equivalent to 2.5 times the area of remaining upland hay meadow in the UK – and with the public's support we can do even more.

Dr Dines adds, "If we just give them a chance, wildflowers can return. Meadow crane's-bill was once widespread in meadows – hence its name – but is now more commonly found on road verges. It spreads readily when cutting is delayed and it's allowed to set seed. Maybe it's time to change its name to "verge crane's-bill".

For more information and for stunning images, please contact:
Katie Cameron Tel: 01722 342759 | Mob: 07584 995929
Email: katie.cameron@plantlife.org.uk
Trevor Dines (Plantlife Botanical Specialist) Tel: 01248 670691 | Mob: 07789 685635
Email: trevor.dines@plantlife.org.uk

To sign the petition, visit www.plantlife.org.uk/roadvergecampaign.


The Oxfordshire Community Woodfuel Programme

The Oxfordshire Community Woodfuel Programme is run by the Trust for Oxfordshire's Environment and a range of partners, and funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. It aims is to promote good woodland management and increase the supply and demand for woodfuel in Oxfordshire. You can find out more on its website at www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk.

Regular bulletins relating to woodland management and woodfuel use are issued during the year. Here is the latest one.

Oxfordshire Community Woodfuel Programme bulletin

Chalara/ash die-back

You will probably have heard about chalara in the news. It is a spore-borne disease which is expected to kill nearly all ash in the coming years. A small proportion – maybe one in 100 trees – will be immune.

As ash trees come into leaf, it will become apparent if they have chalara or not. Signs of the disease include wilting leaves, brown veins in the leaves, and browning of young stems. Forestry Commission advice is not to fell ash trees unless they are ill: the felled tree might be in the 1% that are immune. Besides, the spores can travel huge distances so felling trees as a prophylactic measure is not effective.

If you are aware of ash trees with chalara, www.forestry.gov.uk/chalara gives advice on what to do. They can be used as firewood unless the government places a special order on the trees that prohibits their movement.

Time to buy firewood and stoves/boilers

The woodfuel cutting year may be over, but this is the time to buy firewood and store it for next autumn, and also to think about installing a wood stove or boiler. The website www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk, provides lots of advice on this, including information on the Renewable Heat Incentive and lists of woodfuel and wood stove suppliers.

Woodfuel study visits

There will be three woodfuel themed study visits in the coming months: on 15 April, 1 June and 8 June. The first and last of these will each involve a visit to a woodland, a wood processor and an interesting wood boiler. The 1 June event is a unique opportunity to visit a woodland in a Ministry of Defence site, and taste wild rabbit if you want. The cost is £25-£30 and numbers are limited. More information is at www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk/woodfuel-site-visits.

Logs for labour

Thank you to everyone who contacted me about this. We have had five successful events this spring, and hope to roll out the programme much more widely next autumn. If you are a woodland owner who could use some free help with woodland management in return for people taking some firewood (labour for your logs), or if you would like to work outdoors in return for some firewood (logs for your labour), please get in touch with me. More information is at www.oxonwoodfuel.org.uk/logs-for-labour.

Firewood quality standard

The Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme is setting up a quality standard for small-scale firewood suppliers in Oxfordshire, called 'OxLogs'. It aims to provide transparency about the amount, type, length and moisture content of firewood, and in time improve firewood quality. OxLogs suppliers will state the amount of wood in 'cubic metres tossed' (tossed is how it comes off the truck; a tossed cubic metre is about 0.7 stacked cubic metres); type as hardwood, softwood or mixed; and moisture content as <25% which is ready to burn, or unclassified which buyers would need to season themselves. Please ask your supplier if they provide OxLogs.

Riki Therivel
manager@oxonwoodfuel.org.uk
01865 243488


COMMON RAGWORT
(SENECIO JACOBAEA)

Common ragwort

This is a poisonous weed
(listed in the 1959 Weeds Act)

It contaminates hay crops and other animal fodder resulting in the poisoning of livestock

Is it growing in your Parish?

Stop the spread of Ragwort

If seen, please contact your Parish Clerk
or report it directly to ragwort@oxfordshire.gov.uk

You can find out more about the common ragwort by entering 'ragwort' in the search boxes on these websites:

And find information on what to do about it here on the gov.uk website: