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Friends of Big Wood Nature Reserve
Newsletter - July 2020



With the agreement of the the Council, we have decided to re-start working groups in the wood, working in groups of not more than 6 people, all safely distancing from each other and the public and avoiding sharing tools. The first group will meet on July 18th 10am-12 noon. If you would like to volunteer don’t just turn up but telephone first to Peter Falk on 07973541264 as we have to limit the party to no more than 6 people. We will be repairing dead hedging which has been knocked down during the great trample during April-June. We may organise another session in August.



We have an increased number of these paths in Big Wood. They are simply small paths created by people with their dogs and children wandering off the main paths during the shut down period. A recent article in the Observer newspaper said the term was first used in 1958 in France “lignes de desir” . A lovely name perhaps but sadly for the wood  they can lead to problems as they vastly increase the areas of trampling and soil erosion as well as exposing or compacting tree roots and disturbing wild flower areas and bird or animal habitat in what is already a small wood. This is always a problem in managing the wood but the lockdown has made it much worse this year.
If you find that certain paths are blocked off or narrowed when we restart working groups, please try to understand the reason. Getting the balance right in an urban ancient woodland is not easy but it is vital we try to protect wild flower areas ( the area we protected with dead hedging last winter if you turn left on the outer path after entering from Temple Fortune Hill is a good example;- the wood anemones which had been trampled away after the path became too wide over the years are already coming back and should make a marvellous show next spring 
if we can keep walkers to the main path)


We have a few Ash trees in the wood as well as Rowans. The good news is that certain Ash trees in the UK seem to be resistant to the disease, according to recent research. Although we have found ash saplings in the wood which are badly affected, the more mature trees in Big Wood seem to be surviving which is encouraging news. Rowan trees do not seem to be affected.

There is a marvellous short clip about the management of oak trees and the importance of not compacting the roots in Kew Gardens following the great storm of 1987. Anyone who is interested click on the following:-


A reminder that ageing trees and dead wood are vital for a healthy woodland habitat. A huge swathe of the woodland ecosystem relies on tree wear and tear- hollows, dead branches and fallen trees. The ageing process allows fungi and insects to access the heartwood and the starch and sugars inside and really boosts wildlife: wood-boring insects will burrow inside, fungi can grow around the roots, and bats and woodpeckers can nest in the hollowing trunk. The official UK standard for healthy woodland habitat requires 20m/3 of deadwood per hectare and most forests including Big Wood are well below that level. That is why it is so important to leave fallen branches and trunks in situ. It is difficult with children playing in the wood and creating dens and a balance has to be struck, but we do need to try and protect this small island of ancient woodland.


You may all be interested in how the Friends of Big Wood started. Its origin goes back to the 1990s when Council officials were keen to get locals involved and there were a small band of locals who were passionately interested in preserving the ancient wood remnant. Originally the Committee was run by Barnet Council with a Councillor chairing meetings. However the initiative gradually fizzled out by 2005. 
In 2010 there was a group of us who were worried the wood was being neglected due the increasing cut back of Council resources and a group of Volunteers was formed to carry out some work in the wood under the direction of a Council official. We were fortunate that the Council Official responsible Paul Frainer was an expert in woodland management and he helped us draw up a five year plan and apply for a forestry commission grant to replaced signage, produce a leaflet and purchase saplings and bird boxes. When Paul left Barnet, the Volunteers took on more work and produced a follow up 5 year plan which was approved by Barnet. Encouraged by Barnet, we then took the further step to create our own organisation -the Friends of Big Wood organisation. We decided there would be a small annual subscripting so we could purchase some more equipment (i.e. bat bases etc), commission surveys and pay for experts to lead guided walks and give evening talks.

A great article was written by Peter Falk on the formation of Friends of Bigwood and published in the Suburb News

View article - Suburb News 


These are suspended at the present time.


Thanks to all of you who have already renewed your subscription to the Friends of Big Wood for 2020.May we remind everyone else to renew as we need funds to carry out all our planned activities and surveys. Please complete and return the membership renewal.

The annual subscriptions for 2020, are unchanged at £15 for an individual or £20 per household. We ask you to complete and return the membership renewal sheet attached.

Remember that all details are here on our web site so do signpost your local friends and neighbours to visit the site and encourage them join the Association and to be Friends Of Big Wood.

The Friends of Big Wood Organisation is aware of the new General Data Protection Legislation. Organisations such as ours, which keep a register of names purely for recreational reasons, are exempt from the new regulations. We would advise you all that the data stored is purely to enable us to provide information about Big Wood and no information will be passed to any third party. If, nevertheless, you would like your details deleted from the list, please email us

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