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Latest News

October Stewardship & Woodland News

CSS Mid-Tier Flower-rich margins and plots (AB8) – you have until 15th October to get these established (if you haven’t done so already). If already established, then you must cut (and remove the cuttings) or graze 90% of the area to 10-20cm by 31st October. 10% should be left uncut or ungrazed. Brassica fodder crop (AB13) – can be grazed from 15th October.

ELS OCTOBER – hedge and ditch bank cutting continues as does ditch cleaning. Buffer strips and field corners can also be cut provided they are not cut more often than the prescribed amount.

Nectar flower mixes (EF4) – must be cut to a height of 10cm before 31st October and cuttings should be removed or shredded.

Field Corner Management (EF1) – unless you included some wild flowers in your field corners you are not meant to cut these down more than twice in the 5-year period (apart to control woody growth). Leaving some areas of long, tussocky grass over–winter creates a much better winter habitat than cutting it all down.

EF23/HF24 and AB12 Supplementary Feeding – if you have this option in your agreement then now is the time to get your orders in! We have two standard mixes suitable for Stewardship but we can also make up bespoke mixes if you want something a bit different. We are assuming that the majority of customers will use their own wheat as 70% of the total amount fed so our mixes are for the remaining 30% required by the scheme.

Budget Mix: 30% white millet, 30% black sunflowers, 20% oilseed rape, 20% red dari

Premium Mix: 30% white millet, 25% oilseed rape, 15% sunflower hearts, 10% black sunflowers, 10% red millet, 10% canary seed.

New Oakbank office opened by Sir Jim Paice

Our new and improved office premises at Brook Farm was officially opened last month by GWCT chairman, Sir Jim Paice. The move has allowed us to accommodate our growing team and is a much more welcoming environment for visiting clients. If you are in the area, do drop in and say hello!

Woodland and Tree News

On Sunday 1 September 2019, the Forestry Commission (FC) chalked up its centenary. The FC has done a great deal of good for British Forestry since its beginnings in 1919, as a result of WW1 and the sudden realization that the UK needed a ‘strategic reserve of timber for the future’. Our countryside would be in a very different shape if it hadn’t been put together back then. Over recent years, Government organizations have vied for funding and influence and we have seen the amalgamation of several of them.  Sadly, FC Wales was lost in 2013 to Natural Resource Wales, and FC Scotland changed to Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Forestry only this year.  Therefore, the future of FC England is hugely uncertain in its 100th year. 

The UK Squirrel Accord (UKSA) - has updated and expanded its website to include blogs, images and a resource library. See  Link Here.

New Deer Management Grant on its way for 2020 – A new, joint Forestry Commission & Natural England grant is to be launched to assist collaborative deer management to reduce the impacts of deer in woodlands. High densities of deer can have negative impacts on woodland biodiversity by significantly changing the structure of the understory and by overgrazing on ground flora. The key purpose of this grant is to improve the condition of woodlands, including priority UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitats (primarily broadleaved woodland) and sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs), through reducing the negative impacts of deer. The services to be provided by recipients of the grant are yet to be fully defined but is expected to be before 31 October 2019. See this link for more information.

Ash dieback. A new Operations Note was published by the FC last week, titled ‘How ash dieback may affect your legacy grant scheme or felling licence application’. See Link here.

New Tree Disease Risk Xylella can infect a very broad list of trees and plants, some of which are at higher risk than others. In Italy, it is estimated that the impact of Xylella on olive trees alone has amounted to a loss of €390 million in the past three years. An outbreak of this disease in the UK would lead to the destruction of trees and plants, with negative impacts on the environment and industry. ‘Protecting our plants and trees for future generations’ is a new blog post from the FC about preventing Xylella disease from entering the UK. Find out how you can play a part in helping to stop its spread: read all about it here

Cover cropping roadshow with Sky Agriculture

If you are interested in soil health, join Oakbank, Opico and the Sky Agriculture team at College Farm, Somersham on 15th October to discuss cover and companion cropping, seed mixtures and the role of Stewardship schemes. Register interest at https://www.sky-agriculture.co.uk/products/tell-me-more-about-sky/

General Licence users survey

The GWCT is encouraging anyone affected by this year’s change in General Licences in England to complete their survey as a way of contributing to the current Defra consultation. Your experiences and views can help Defra make an informed decision on General Licences after the consultation period ends. All information submitted will be collated and anonymised by the GWCT before they submit it to Defra on your behalf. You can find the online survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/gwct_gen_lic


Autumn partridge count

Don’t forget you have until the end of October to take part in the autumn count of GWCT’s Partridge Count Scheme. Anyone interested in helping conserve grey partridge is invited to take part and submit their results to the GWCT national database. There are no restrictions on how many partridges you need to have, nor do you have to be interested in them as a quarry species – every one counts! The autumn count measures breeding success with counts done in early morning and/or late evening. Detailed instructions are provided and you can find out more at https://www.gwct.org.uk/partridge