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December Stewardship & Woodland Diary

ELS DECEMBER – hedge and ditch bank cutting continues as does ditch cleaning.

Supplementary feeding for farmland birds (EF23/HF24 & AB12)– a reminder that the feeding period for AB12 starts on 1st December and EF23 on 1st January (HF24 can be either) so make sure you have your food ready to go. Remember you can use your own wheat and oilseed rape but that at least 25% of the overall mix needs to be small seeds such as millets and canary seed. You MUST NOT use tailings/screenings. Please contact the office to discuss different mix options and prices.

Skylark Plots (EF8 & AB4) – make sure they are sprayed out of winter cereal crops by 31st Dec. Each plot must be at least 3m wide and a minimum area of 16m².

Hedging and trees – a reminder that we supply top quality hedging plants, trees and shrubs along with all the accessories (spirals, canes, tree guards etc).  Please contact us for a quote.

New member of staff – we are delighted to announce that Kirsty Brannan has joined the Oakbank team as a farm conservation and woodland advisor. Kirsty spent nearly 18 years with the RSPB as a farm conservation advisor and latterly as their Acting Conservation Manager where she facilitated a farmer ‘cluster’ group in the Upper Thames valley. Prior to working with the RSPB she worked with our very own Sarah Brockless at the GWCT Allerton project so is no stranger to the link between shooting and conservation. Kirsty also brings additional bird ID expertise to the team should clients need detailed farmland bird surveys. She will be based at her home in Banbury and will be sharing CS work with Matt and Sarah


Maize seed – there has been recent talk in the farming press that maize seed will be in short supply this year. We have secured our anticipated requirement so don’t panic! However, as this is the last year that Mesurol seed treatment will be permitted, we have not bought any surplus treated seed and once it is sold there will be no more. The suggestion therefore is to get a decent proportion of your maize seed ordered in good time as it will be sold on a first-come-first-served basis.


Chalara Ash Dieback Update: A new Forestry Commission Chalara (ash dieback) map was published in September, which shows how it has now spread across much of the UK and continues to spread. Good news is that UK scientists Prof James Brown, from the John Innes Centre in Norwich, said planting resistant seeds from orchards of Chalara-tolerant ash over three generations would help the species recover ‘in decades’ instead of centuries. Chalara outbreak map is available at: https://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/UK_outbreak_Map4_Web_Version.pdf/$FILE/UK_outbreak_Map4_Web_Version.pdf

BBC article on Ash dieback: Seed orchards could help species recover sooner is available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/uk-england-norfolk-45959914

Free Trees: In East Anglia, the Woodland Trust is offering free packs of 45 trees + tubes and stakes to landowners in the ‘Eastern Claylands’ to help replace those lost to ash dieback. You have to pick them up from one of three designated places during mid-December.

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And on the North Downs in Kent, the Woodland Trust is offering subsidised tree packs to replant areas badly affected by Chalara with alternative native species.

More information is available at: https://shop.woodlandtrust.org.uk/kentdowns

Country Food Trust and the British Game Alliance

This winter the Country Food Trust is aiming to feed 75,000 people in need with healthy, nutritious game-based meals. In addition to ready meals they are now supplying hundreds of kilos of pheasant and partridge meat to charities in Glasgow, Hull and Liverpool which will help provide an additional 15,000 meals in those cities. The CFT needs to raise £100,000 to deliver their winter food programme and hope that they will get the support of the shooting community. You can make a donation by going to: www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/TCFTWinterAppeal

or texting FEED10 to 70085 to give £10.

On the subject of game meat if your shoot hasn’t signed up to the British Game Alliance shoot standards then please do so.  The BGA is a not-for-profit initiative which has the support and backing of all shooting organisations. It is the official marketing board for game, with a dedicated sales team opening up new markets for game here in the UK and overseas.

It has a robust, independent audit procedure, run by the same company that operates the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Scheme thereby bringing credible self-regulation to the shooting community. If you have yet to register your shoot then please do so now at:  https://www.britishgamealliance.co.uk/bga-register/shoots-registration/

Christmas Opening Hours:

The Oakbank Office will be closed from 12 o’clock on Monday 24th Dec and will re-open on Wednesday 2nd January 2019.