Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


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17 January 2017

Foxes Bridge Colliery Tip

Grid Ref SO638136



A large team turned up at Foxes Bridge so we split into two teams. One team were removing the birch and Corsican pine on the old colliery escarpment. This site is a precious butterfly and reptile haven so we needed to allow open corridors for their movements. There was very obvious Red Band Needle Blight on the Corsican Pine.

In Britain, Dothistroma Needle Blight (DNB), also known as Red Band Needle Blight, is caused by the fungus Dothistroma septosporum.  It has been found on a range of conifer species, but pine (Pinus) are by far the most common hosts, with Corsican pine, lodgepole pine and Scots pine all now affected. Defoliation can continue year on year and gradually weaken the tree, significantly reducing timber yields. It can also eventually lead to mortality. Trees of all ages can become infected. Symptoms are first seen at the base of the crown on older needles. Infected needles typically develop yellow and tan spots and bands, which soon turn red.  As the disease progresses, the ends of the needles then turn reddish-brown whilst the needle base remains green.  It is within the red bands that the small, black, spore-containing fruit bodies tend to be found, with symptoms being most apparent in June and July.  Spores are released from the fruit bodies during this period, leading to infection of the current year's needles.  After this point, the symptomatic needles are shed, and branches can have a typical 'lion's tail' appearance, with only a tuft of the recently infected current year's needles remaining at the branch ends.

The other team went to the top of the track near to Crabtree Hill where some of us had been last Thursday. This area had been timber felled a couple of years ago and the debris had totally covered the ground. We are systematically clearing and burning the old wood so that ground nesting birds, such as the Woodllark, can use it.






The side of the old colliery tip covered in small birch and pine. The nutrients in the ground are so poor that the trees grow very slowly and are very weak.





We were not permitted to light a fire here as there is coal slag underneath so we built dead hedges around to deter the wild boar. Wild strawberries are abundant here.

There was also signs of the White-barred Clearwing Moth

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This is the large area of old timber felling and we had five fires burning. It would take quite a few visits to clear the ground level completely!


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