Fitzalan Wood

Project supported by    TOE2-logo-small    Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment
and GrundonWasteManagement-logo Grundon Waste Management.

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The site of this new wood in Chipping Norton is a one-acre piece of the common land, through which flows the Common Brook. It is bounded to the north by the Worcester Road (A44) and to the east by Station Road. For years it had been a wasteland wilderness and had at different times been proposed as a skateboard park and as a site for  office buildings and industrial units.

Chippy Green Gym cleared the thickly overgrown site and has planted upwards of 350 trees, which will create a mixed broad-leaf wood.

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The overgrown site in 2013

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By early  January 2015,  several hundred hours’ work later, planting was well advanced.

Clearance work involved removing fallen trees, brambles, and dense willow herb and invasive Himalayan balsam.

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April and August 2013

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September 11, 2013

Planting took place in December 2014 and January 2015. One factor influencing the choice of species was the poor drainage at the lower end of the site.

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January 7, 2014, by the Common Brook. Here we planted alder, white willow, red dogwood and the wayfaring tree.

In the main part of the wood, there are hazel, hornbeam, small-leaved lime, and English oak. Unfortunately, ash could not be added to the list due to a government ban on movement of the species, currently threatened by Chalara fungal disease (ash dieback) which has now spread throughout the British Isles.

Space has been left to form a central glade, which is edged  with crab apple, silver birch, dog rose, and more red dogwood.

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Deer are among the visitors which the tree guards will afford protection from.

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“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.” (Chinese proverb)

To involve younger members of the  local community in the project, we invited a group of schoolchildren to get some hands-on experience of tree-planting.

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Tree-planters from St Mary’s Primary School

After much hard work on the project, leader Richard Averill spent an enjoyable time guiding the children through the process. A good time was had by all!

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Most of the trees planted have taken well, there having been very few losses.

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May 2016. Old carpeting ensures a weed-free space around the base of the young trees. Weeds will grow less vigorously as the the trees get larger and start to deprive them of light.

In years to come, the woodland will be a source of renewable energy, with the trees being pollarded for fuel. It is intended that the sale of wood will provide income to assist in the maintenance of the town’s common land, which constitutes such a vital part of our community’s natural heritage.

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