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  • Writer's pictureWiltshire West Team

News from Jubilee Wood - May 2020

In accordance with the Government’s advice, all face-to-face Scout meetings have been suspended for the time being, which means that we have had to close Jubilee Wood.

All our Scout meetings are still proceeding on-line using zoom and facebook. There have been some exciting activities including a “Virtual” Cub Camp with cubs camping in the garden with one of their parents and carrying out a whole range of activities – judging by reports, I’m not sure who enjoyed it most – the dads or the girls and boys!

Within the constraints of social distancing, members of the maintenance team have been keeping an eye on Jubilee Wood, planting a few new trees where there have been failures and thickening up the hedge between us and the cows next door. The grass hasn’t stopped growing so, in between mower breakdowns, we have been trying to keep the place reasonably tidy. The opportunity has also been taken to identify 50 or so potential veteran trees that are growing strongly now and we will try to give special care to in the years ahead. We have allocated one to each of our Scout Groups so that they can come and see how well “their “ tree is doing and some will be named after people that have kindly given us help. We will maintain a register of these and record their height and girth each year to check on how they are progressing. One of these is a Black Poplar, a tree once common in parts of Wiltshire and Somerset but now reputedly very rare. We were also given a couple of disease resistant Elm trees, (variety Ulmas Minor ‘Ademus’). Interestingly, a group of disease resistant Elms were found in the village of Ademus near Madrid in Spain. Laboratory tests found them to be highly resistant, so we shall see how well they do here in Wiltshire – if nothing else, they should be able to cope with the hot dry summers associated with climate change!

We are slowly making progress dealing with water collecting under the toilets and rotting the floor. The opportunity is being taken to create two or three new WC cubicles using what were the shower cubicles.

There has not been much progress on our plans to expand our woodland and plant another 25,000 trees to help fight climate change. We had a very encouraging meeting with officials from Wiltshire Council and are now waiting to hear back from them with advice as to whether our plans for the new wood should be regarded as “Development” and therefore not permitted under the Council’s new Bat Mitigation Strategy. If this hurdle can be overcome, we then need to convince the Council’s ecologists that new woodland plus some carefully managed Scout activity would be better for the bats than no woodland. As part of this work, we hope to commission a survey to establish what flora and fauna are currently present in the fields that we hope to buy and what we currently have in Jubilee Wood. We will compare the latter with the results of the survey that was conducted of what became Jubilee Wood before we bought it from Chris Awdry (the most exciting thing then was one solitary bluebell) to demonstrate just what habitat benefits have been obtained in Jubilee Wood so far, and thus hope to show the benefits for wildlife that we would hope to achieve from the new woodland.

Our chances of starting tree planting this autumn seem to be slipping away but we have not given up hope. I remind everyone I speak to on the subject that the best time to plant a tree was 25 years ago and the second best time is now.

John Cox

Warden, Jubilee Wood

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