Burnham Beeches & Stoke Common, Buckinghamshire – Newsletter Feb 2024

Report confirms the value of the Beeches and Stoke Common

A new report has revealed that, over a fifty year period, Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common delivers £130million of benefits to the public through recreation, health and wellbeing, air and water quality and by removing carbon from the atmosphere. Overall, the City of London’s network of internationally important open spaces is worth £282.6 million each year in benefits to society, and £8.1 billion over 50 years.

The City of London spends £38 million a year on maintaining its open spaces, many of which operate as charitable trusts and are run at little or no cost to the communities they serve. The report, which was produced by Natural Capital Solutions, found that the overall benefit-to-cost ratio is 16.4:1 – for every £1 spent on maintaining and protecting these open spaces, £16.40 is returned in ‘natural capital benefits’ for the public. You can read more on the City of London’s website.
Help us by letting us be wild

When visiting the ponds, the Rangers were pleased to see that there were at least 14 mandarin ducks taking up residence in the Beeches. While these beautiful birds aren’t native to Britain, they are becoming increasingly common in wetland areas adjacent to woodland. They build their nests in the crooks and hollows of trees, making Burnham Beeches especially good habitat for them due to the brilliantly preserved ancient pollards with hollow trunks.

We would like to remind visitors that we do not permit the feeding of any wildlife on any of our reserves. We would prefer that the wildlife that chooses to call Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common home, does so because of the first class habitat that we strive to create and maintain, rather than because their diets are being supplemented with additional food.

There is also evidence that “angel wing”, a syndrome associated with geese, swans and ducks may be linked to an excess of high energy food such as bread in their diets which makes it especially important to refrain from feeding them.
Experimenting with young pollards

Over the last 11 years, without knowing it, many of the young trees around Burnham Beeches have become “guinea pigs” so to speak. Throughout this period, many different pruning methods have been trialled (some historic and some revolutionary) and perhaps more interestingly, there has been increasing speculation around how the time of year when a tree is cut plays a role in the success and vigour of said tree.

Recently, the Burnham Beeches Eco-volunteers have been evaluating the impact of pruning time on the young pollards across the National Nature Reserve, and they have even been investigating how pruning around a particular moon phase may benefit a tree. This interesting approach has now caught the attention of students at University College London, who have begun a student project to research this theory in further detail – we look forward to hearing their results.
Goodbye Kate

We’re incredibly sorry to announce that one of our Community Engagement Rangers (CER’s) Kate Hartup has decided to move on to other endeavours and left at the end of January. Kate has played a crucial role in engaging with the local community about responsible countryside use, including outreach with local schools, other green spaces and participating in local events. You may still see Kate around the reserves and we are hopeful that she will remain an important local supporter of these wonderful wildlife safe havens and the work we do to protect them.
Bring back the birds

The only thing that is better than seeing wildlife in your local area is seeing wildlife in your own garden. If you would like to learn how to encourage more birds in your garden, why not come along to one of our upcoming events. 

On Sunday 11 February we have Meet the Ranger: building for birds. To celebrate National Nestbox Week, One of the Community Rangers will be near the café to explain the role Burnham Beeches plays for woodland birds and how you can make your garden more hospitable for our feathered friends.

This February half term, on Monday 12 and Tuesday 13 February from 10.30am-1pm we have two more opportunities to join a Ranger near the Information Point for Woodland Explorers: Craft Club. We’ll be creating woodland inspired bird feeders to help you maximise your chances of seeing birds in your garden. This is a free event but all donations go towards protecting the National Nature Reserve. Suggested donation £2. 
More habitat creation and restoration

Throughout January, the Rangers have been hard at work to improve the quality of the wood pasture area between Juniper Common and The Heath. This includes felling trees within secondary woodland (woodland that has grown up on land which was previously cleared of trees but is normally species-poor compared to ancient woodland) to allow more light to the woodland floor, better habitat for reptiles and invertebrates and better access for our grazing livestock. On top of this, several log piles have been created with the arising timber from this work to improve the decaying wood habitat in the area.
2024: The year to walk

This year, why not join in with one of our monthly Simply Walks. These free, one hour health walks are a fantastic way to see some of the more accessible areas of Burnham Beeches and really help to appreciate the seasonal changes that we see throughout the year. The Simply Walk scheme is co-ordinated by Buckinghamshire Council and you can view the list of available walks and sign up for free here.
Winter storms at Burnham Beeches and Stoke Common

We would like to thank our visitors for continuing to cooperate whilst we deal with the wet and windy conditions of the recent winter storms. To ensure visitor safety, when wind speeds exceed 45mph we aim to restrict access to Burnham Beeches by closing the car parks. When it is safe to do so, we check all external and internal roads, as well as main paths for signs of storm damage before we re-open to the public.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank everyone again for your understanding.
Volunteer days and events coming up:

Burnham Beeches Volunteers
Every Thursday 9am – 3pm – please call or email the office to book on.

Next Friends of Stoke Common volunteer task:
Saturday 3 February – 10am – 3pm please email the office to book on.

Next Burnham Beeches Sunday volunteer task:
Sunday 18 February – 10am – 3pm please email the office to book on.

Simply walk
This walk is on the second Wednesday of each month. The next date is:Wednesday 14 JanuaryMeet by the Information Point at 10.45am on a Wednesday to join us for a gentle stroll around the reserve.

Events and walks: 

Meet the Ranger: building for birds
Sunday 11 February, 12noon – 1pm
Meet one of our community engagement Rangers by the café during National Nestbox Week, to learn about the importance of Burnham Beeches and ancient woodland for birds and to discover ways to support birds in your garden. 

Woodland Explorers: craft club
Monday 12 & Tuesday 13 February, 10.30am – 1pm
Join a Ranger near the café to create your own woodland inspired bird feeder to attract more birds to your garden. Suggested donation £2.

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