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Friends of Big Wood Nature Reserve
Newsletter - August - 2023


Now that you are all returning from your summer holidays, we thought it a good time to bring you up to date with Big Wood happenings and what is planned for September and October.


As we advised in the July newsletter, these activity mornings restart in September. Please put the dates your diaries and as many as possible attend as there is a lot of work to carry out over the winter. The first two dates are Saturday mornings until 12.15pm on Sept 16th and Oct 7th. As before, we will meet at the top of Temple Fortune Hill by the gate to the wood. If you arrive after 10am, telephone 07973541264 to find out in which area we are working. In addition to the annual work of re-clearing the glades,and attending to the ditches and paths, we need groups to eradicate some of the worst invasive species spreading  in the wood notably wisteria which has escaped from gardens but also laurel and rhododendron.


You have already been advised by Bruce Mackay about the walk being led by geologist Diane Clements on Sunday September 10th. There are currently 3 places left so if you are interested in joining the walk, which starts at 11.30am, contact Bruce Mackay on


We have over 25 Crab Apple trees in the wood and some of these maybe genuine old crab apples rather than hybrids. We are taking part in a survey to establish how many genuine old crab apples exist and have sent the leaves of 17 trees to a Cambridge laboratory. We should get the results in October. If there are some positive results, the wood may get extra protection as a special site.


Most of the oak trees in the wood were clear felled at the end of the eighteenth century so we have a largely mono aged wood of oak trees (an average of 200 years) although there are some older ones around the perimeter of the wood. We estimate there are about 350 oaks in the wood but many are showing signs of chronic oak decline. Therefore we are carrying out a long term study of oaks based on a programme that tree experts from the City of London are carrying out on the Heath. We have selected 10 oaks from each of the seven compartments in the wood i.e. 70 trees or about 20% of the stock. We examine these trees each summer to ascertain the current quality of the crown so we gradually build up a long term record of the state of the tree. We carried out our annual survey in July. If anyone is interested in seeing the records to date since we started in 2018, please contact us.


Friends of Big Wood agreed to take part in a hedgehog survey. This is part of a National Hedgehog Monitoring programme to learn about the true scale of the species decline, understand the best habitats for their survival and establish corridors between green spaces. The London part of the programme is being managed by London Zoo (ZSL). They have designated a square mile covering part of the Heath Extension, the Suburb, Big Wood and Turners Wood and 30 Cameras have been installed in the area last week. Of these, three have been installed in Big Wood and will remain for 30 days. They will then be removed and the data from each camera examined using a software programme developed nationally which can process out, for example, humans. If you are looking for the cameras, they are attached at about ankle height. If you want to learn more about the study, contact us and we will send more details.


Many thanks to the members who have already renewed their subscriptions for 2023. This is a reminder to the rest to pay their subs for the year. There has been some problems with bank transfers because our bank (Metrobank) is not part of the cosy club of traditional banks so when you enter our details your screen says they cannot confirm the account and to beware of scams. In fact you are quite safe to continue as the Metro bank, though small is quite safe and is a reputable small bank.


Many members have already renewed their membership for 2023 and we thank them. But there are still a number who have not yet got round to it so we would be grateful if you could organise the annual payment so we do not need to chase. The correct bank account is the Metro Bank Acc no 41079576 sort code 23 05 80 or you can send a cheque to Friends of Big Wood c/o 4 Farm Walk




Litter remains a problem and some of us regularly pick up litter as we go round the wood. If any one else wants to help and would like a litter picker, please contact us. We have a number of Friends who are regularly are picking up litter but please can all the Friends help to keep the wood clear of litter. 


We reported on the importance of dead wood. The official UK standard for healthy woodland habitat requires 20m3 of deadwood per hectare and most woodlands in the UK, including Big Wood, is below this level. It is important therefore that all dead trunks and fallen branches are left where they fall or are left standing.

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. 


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:-

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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