Cotswold Life - - COTSWOLD COUN­TRY­SIDE - For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the Cotswolds AONB and the Cotswolds Con­ser­va­tion Board: Cotswolds Con­ser­va­tion Board The Old Pri­son, Fosse Way, North­leach, Glouces­ter­shire, GL54 3JH. Tel: 01451 862000 www.cotswold­saonb.org.uk

“Ireally love to think that fam­i­lies, in­di­vid­u­als or schools can iden­tify for gen­er­a­tions to come that a par­tic­u­lar tree on a road or in their area was planted by a par­tic­u­lar per­son or group,” says Chris Sandys, com­mu­ni­ties pro­ducer at BBC Ra­dio Glouces­ter­shire. He is en­thus­ing (with 100% jus­ti­fi­ca­tion) about Our­bore­tum: a new cam­paign launched this July that aims to re­place trees in Glouces­ter­shire that are dy­ing from the (as yet) in­cur­able ash dieback dis­ease.

Our­bore­tum is bril­liantly sim­ple and any­one in Glouces­ter­shire can get in­volved: col­lect seeds / nuts from hazel, oak or beech trees this au­tumn, and plant them in pots in your gar­den or on your bal­cony; schools and busi­nesses can join in too. Af­ter the saplings ap­pear in spring and grow to 40cm, they will be trans­planted to spe­cially se­lected project lo­ca­tions. The ini­tial tar­get is to grow 2,020 trees.

Ash dieback (a fun­gal dis­ease, high­lighted in Cotswold Life Novem­ber 2019) is ex­pected to kill up to 95% of ash trees across the UK in­clud­ing in Glouces­ter­shire, dra­mat­i­cally im­pact­ing land­scapes and wildlife habi­tat. Our­bore­tum, run by BBC Ra­dio Glouces­ter­shire in part­ner­ship with the Cotswolds Con­ser­va­tion Board, aims to mit­i­gate the losses. Most im­por­tantly, Chris says, “we need mem­bers of the pub­lic to get in­volved to bring Our­bore­tum to life – in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, schools, clubs, busi­nesses, part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions, as well as landown­ers who can help us in iden­ti­fy­ing suit­able lo­ca­tions for plant­ing trees.”

Mark Con­nelly, Land Man­age­ment Of­fi­cer at the Cotswolds Con­ser­va­tion Board says: “Our mantra is to plant the

right tree in the right place for the right rea­son. Through Our­bore­tum we hope to in­crease peo­ple’s un­der­stand­ing of ash dieback and also of trees, which are so im­por­tant for our land­scapes, bio­di­ver­sity, [mit­i­gat­ing] cli­mate change, help­ing with wa­ter and air qual­ity. It’s not just about wood­lands, or plant­ing in hedges, park­lands and copses; ur­ban trees are im­por­tant as well, to pro­vide shade and to cool streets.”

Oak, beech and hazel trees have been cho­sen for Our­bore­tum be­cause “they are easy to find and quite easy to grow, and they are suit­able for Glouces­ter­shire,” Mark says. Both he and Chris have al­ready had a go at col­lect­ing and grow­ing “from seed to sapling” to make sure it re­ally is pos­si­ble for any­one to do. Mark con­cen­trated on acorns (oak) and hazelnuts, and suc­cess­fully grew three or four of each species. Chris mean­while tried his hand with a bag­ful of beech­mast, col­lected last au­tumn from Buck­holt Wood:

“The main tip Mark gave me was to put it all into a bucket of wa­ter and dis­card any­thing that floated – which was dead or use­less – and that left me with about half of the beech­nuts I had col­lected. By the end of Oc­to­ber I had planted 30 in peat-free com­post in six dif­fer­ent pots, out­side in my gar­den, and I lit­er­ally left them. Green shoots be­gan ap­pear­ing around the end of Fe­bru­ary / be­gin­ning of March. It was bril­liant! I had just over 50% suc­cess rate, with 17 lovely saplings that grew with­out any at­ten­tion at all – which has given me lots of con­fi­dence that it re­ally is easy to do.”

You can down­load Our­bore­tum guides [see panel] to help you iden­tify healthy seeds / nuts from hazel, beech and oak (and the dif­fer­ence be­tween ses­sile and pe­dun­cu­late oak!), plus where to look for seeds, and what you need to record about the lo­ca­tion (for trace­abil­ity and bio-se­cu­rity pur­poses). Hazelnuts can be col­lected from the end of Au­gust, and beech­mast and acorns in Septem­ber. Guides in­clude handy tips on pots, soil and grow­ing too.

The coro­n­avirus out­break and so­cial dis­tanc­ing has dis­rupted phys­i­cal get-to­geth­ers for ini­tial com­mu­nity Our­bore­tum events, how­ever the lock­down has made us gen­er­ally much more ap­pre­cia­tive of our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment on our doorstep, Chris says. “I think Our­bore­tum taps into that bril­liantly well, and the whole cam­paign works even if there is still a de­gree of lock­down which means peo­ple can’t meet in large groups in pub­lic.”

BBC Ra­dio Glouces­ter­shire pro­grammes will be run­ning up­dates on the cam­paign. The aim is to plan an Our­bore­tum fes­ti­val in early au­tumn, whether held phys­i­cally or vir­tu­ally on­line, and early au­tumn seed-col­lect­ing events – to­gether or so­cially dis­tanced. It is also hoped to cre­ate an in­ter­ac­tive on­line map high­light­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, and to or­gan­ise plant­ing events. In ad­di­tion to plant­ing trees singly or in small groups, the dream is to es­tab­lish a small ‘legacy’ Our­bore­tum wood­land of na­tive trees where each sapling, planted by dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies / groups, tells its own story from 2020.

“I’m re­ally op­ti­mistic and ex­cited by Our­bore­tum,” Chris says. “If we can do things re­ally well here in Glouces­ter­shire this year, maybe next year with the help of our 39 lo­cal BBC ra­dio sta­tions the cam­paign can roll out na­tion­ally.”

Want to get in­volved in Our­bore­tum? Find out more at: our­bore­tum, email

Col­lect, plant and grow: in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies, groups, schools and busi­nesses can down­load guides and info.

Landown­ers / farm­ers: please help us to iden­tify sites where trees can be planted, in­clud­ing a lo­ca­tion for the Our­bore­tum legacy wood­land.

Part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions and spon­sor­ship: join us in pro­mot­ing Our­bore­tum! We also wel­come help with tree-plant­ing costs, please get in touch.

One of the first shoots to ap­pear, in March

A col­lec­tion of beech­nuts, be­fore Chris se­lected 30 to plant

The saplings re­ally take off

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