Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


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(To see previous News page - up to 2011   2011 - 2012   2013   2014 )



(Click on the item below to view)

The Giant's Chair

Community Grant

Woorgreen Lake Water Lilies

Forest of Dean Bioblitz

Our Warden

Butterfly Surveying

Forest Frogs

Forest Forum

The Past Year


The Giant's Chair

This film not only shows the history and the future for the Giant's Chair but also features some of our Dean Green Team members - Howard and Carol, Judith and Pete - many thanks to them. The Chair was taken down on the 20th October 2015 and will be made into a charcoal heap.


Community Grant

The Dean Green Team have received a Community Grant from the Forest of Dean District Council of 500 which will be used for new tools to assist us in our work.

(Picture courtesy of the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review)



Woorgreen Lake Water Lilies

There is an amazing abundance of Water Lilies in Woorgreen Lake this year (August). The Dean Green Team have regularly worked around the lake as it is now a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust Reserve.


The lake was drained nearly four years ago which was the last time we were able to reach the island in the middle. The yellow flowers on the little island in the foreground are masses of ragwort which is a good breeding area for the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae) which can lay up to 300 eggs, usually in batches of 30 or 60 on the underside of ragwort leaves. When the caterpillars (larvae) hatch they feed on the around the area of the hatched eggs but as they get bigger and moult they mainly feed on the leaves and flowers of the plant, and can be seen out in the open during the day.





Our diary from the lake draining can be seen on Diary 27 Sep 2011 and Diary 18 Oct 2011

Forest of Dean Bioblitz

In July GWT was in the Forest of Dean for a 30 hour bioblitz at The Park and Pools Allotment at Tidenham Chase. Over a hundred people came to participate including a number of County Recorders and the local bat group together with volunteers and members of the public. Over 640 species were recorded on the day including a northern eggar moth at the Park which is the county's only know site. GWT are also waiting on confirmation for Nitella mucronata a species of stonewort which is nationally scarce.  

GWT aimed to record over 700 species of flora and fauna and are still waiting on more records.
Highlights of the day included all species of reptiles being spotted over the two sites including 21 common lizards. There were a number of activities and walks the public could get involved with and although Sunday was a bit drab, Saturday revealed a huge variety of dragonfly and damselfly species busily laying their eggs, 10 species were seen at The Park and 6 at Pools Allotment. A heathland specialist Amnophila sabuloso (sand wasp) was also spotted.

On the plant front rare sphagnum moss species were discovered including fat bog-moss (S. papillosum) which was previously only recorded within the Forest of Dean at Wigpool Common and near Foxes Bridge. Along with spiky bog moss (S. squarrosum) which has only recently been seen at the Foxes Bridge site.  S. denticulatum and S. fimbriatum were also found at The Park with S. denticulatum being the only species found at Pools Allotment.

A number of tree pipits and wood warblers including some juveniles were seen flying around. Peregrine falcon and siskins were also recorded.

As night fell on the Saturday the local bat group got to work recording species of bats for both sites. In total 7 species were identified including the barbastelle, lesser horseshoe at both sites and the rare Leisler’s was recorded just at The Park. All species are protected under the EU Habitat Directive.



Our Warden

Howard Claridge, a regular with the Dean Green Team, describes his role as volunteer warden at Stenders Quarry nature reserve.

(This article also appeared in the magazine of the Gloucester Wildlife Trust - Summer 2015)


This is where the new bench is sited and gives the vista down through the quarry.


I started my conservation volunteering about 15 years ago, shortly after retiring from work. My job involved quite a lot of outdoor work and I wanted to volunteer outdoors in my retirement.

Initially I joined the Forestry Commission's Dean Green Team and undertook a variety of tasks right across the Forest of Dean. This continued for many years until GWT and the Forestry Commission devised a joint programme of work whereby our volunteers worked weeks with each organisation.

It was one dark, cold, November morning when we were first introduced to Stenders Quarry. It wasn't new to me as I live just a few hundred yards away and had visited the site, but I knew nothing of it's future. That day however the DGT voted it the worst site they had ever worked on! An honour it will be hard to beat.

Under the guidance of Kevin Caster, GWT Forest of Dean Nature Reserves Manager, good progress was made in taming the site after a few visits. However, we needed help and a little later we were promised 15 hard working Hebridean sheep. I agreed to help look after them and was given sheep husbandry training in the Cotswolds. Shortly after, our sheep arrived at Stenders.

My first job was to check them daily, checking fences in particular. I rarely got back home without being covered in mud, bleeding and sometimes short of finding all 15 sheep. As time progressed there were improvements made by the Dean Green Team which gave the sheep fewer hiding places and the site looked more cared for. I had also spent a lot of time training the sheep to come to me, rather than going the other way. Aided by my small black dog (who I'm sure the sheep thought was a young lamb) I now saw all of the sheep every visit, so checks reduced to every other day.

I became involved in unofficial tasks like litter picking, keeping an eye on the public use of the site, and being the local ears and eyes for the reserve manager. I've helped with many other tasks in the quarry, but by the end of last year I began to hear whispers of 'wardens' and 'formality'! The rest is history. So what do I do as a volunteer warden? Probably the main objective is to liaise with the public on the site, but at the moment visitors are few and far between. I have plans to introduce locals to the reserve through our newly published Mitcheldean Parish magazine. Most of the villagers, some living only a few hundred yards away, know nothing of the quarry, or even where it is.

During the winter of 2014/15 I spent a lot of time working in the quarry with the Dean Green Team and it's now looking really cared for. I have been involved with our Forest bat expert in the quarry tunnel, which has resulted in the creation of a bat habitat. I have built and helped erect the many roosting places and climate control devices on offer to what we hope will be an ever-increasing bat population.

I have only been warden for a few months but my tasks have also included, over and above sheep care, dry stone wall repairs, a footpath diversion, litter collection and keeping the information board clean. I have liaised with the police, our local neighbour, and assisted a contract tree felling team on the roadside of the quarry. I have lead a 22-strong Dean Green Team on various tasks, liaised with the Fire Service Control and returned to the quarry to check on the safety of our bonfire remains. I even helped lug a heavy wooden bench to the highest point of the quarry then buried it 600mm into the ground. The resultant view from it is spectacular.

I find the role both interesting and rewarding and I think it will be even more worthwhile when the reserve can be visited by more people. Much work remains to be done to complete the reserve's five-year plan, but I hope to be associated with it throughout and look forward to being able to share it with the general public; it's a magnificent place!



Butterfly Surveying - June 2015

Photo of a freshly emerged Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary on 4th June in the Forest of Dean.

A report from one of the butterfly surveyors.

I'm glad to say that the number of Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries on the wing is now definitely increasing. I had a good look round the Linear Park yesterday morning, where I met three photographers looking for the same thing. One photographer reckoned he had seen about 6 Frits in all, including 3 at once, but I am more cautious and would say probably 4 and just maybe 5, all males, all very fresh. They were mainly seen east of the Oaks, with odd ones at the foot of the cycle track bank, and one flying southwards about half-way up the steep bank to the west of the cycle track towards the train wreck sculpture. None in the clearing I call Oaks West. A faded Dingy Skipper on the triangle with a couple of Common Blues and Small heaths. At Barracks West (RSPB) I saw single frits in two places, one the usual flowery bank north-west of the pond and the other about 25 to 30 meters west of the pond. Brandricks Green seemed devoid of frits but one appeared near the south end of the grassy bank by the first stile/gap just before I left. The damp hollow south of the chapel also one very fresh frit, but none along the roadside, nor across the field or by the Marsh Violet ditch. Good hunting!



Help us to find the Forest of Dean's hidden ponds and lakes and discover what's in them!

Hidden away in the Forest of Dean are many small ponds and lakes, some, so well hidden they are known only to a few who stumble upon them when out for a walk. We would like to build a picture of the condition of these ponds, and one way to do this is to record what is found in them.

"Amphibians such as frogs, toads and newts are good indicators of the health of a pond." said Rosie Kelsall, Forest of Dean GWT Community Wildlife Officer.

"We need you to tell us where you see frog and toad spawn we can plan the future of these ponds and how best to look after them."

We also want to know about the ponds in your community, your garden, your school grounds, village green etc where frog and toad spawn are found. We have set up a form to make it easy to add your pond info here

Alternatively people can go to and follow the link.


Forest Forum - 24 February 2015


The Forest Forum was hosted by Kevin Stannard, Deputy Surveyor in the Forestry Commission for the Forest Of Dean.


Boar - The stated intention is to reduce the boar population down to, and then aim to hold the population at around 400 animals on the public forest estate. They will use thermal imaging surveys to assess this, and publish the result of the survey each year.


Surface Water Management - The subject of surface water management has risen due to the exceptionally wet years of 2012 and 2013 when nationally significant flood events occurred. In the Dean the damaging impacts of water were seen in many areas including surface water flooding in Lydbrook and Lydney. The aim is to hold water in pools, puddles and trapped in vegetation - to soak up like a sponge - and hold it to release slowly. The Environment Agency, Forest of Dean District Council and the Forestry Commission are now working on a new strategy that will look to further improve the water holding capability of the Forest (to make the sponge bigger) but also still allowing it to drain afterwards.


Tree Planting - 58 Hectares have been planted on previously cleared ground. Many of the sites planted were felled prematurely due to Phytopthora Ramorum disease that affected the Larch crops.

The range of trees planted are :-

Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir, Scots Pine, Red Cedar and Western Hemlock
Sessile and Pendunculate Oak, Hornbeam, Cherry, Rowan and Hawthorn
Sequia, Weymouth Pine, Shag Bark Hickory


Tree Health - Another year has passed with no new infections of Phytopthora Ramorum disease which would indicate that the prompt actions in 2012 has successfully halted the spread. Chronic oak decline continues to be a serious concern in the Forest and stands of mature oak continue to die, Corsican Pine continue to suffer badly from Dothistroma, a fungal disease of the needles.





We were asked to contribute an article to the Gloucester Wildlife Volunteer Newsletter so here is the report by one of our members :-


The Dean Green Team has gone from strength to strength over the past year. It is not uncommon for twenty or more stalwarts to arrive on a Tuesday morning ready and willing to tackle whatever task is scheduled for that day. This does mean that the organisers now have to ensure that the task is sufficiently large for everyone to have enough to do for the day, and that parking is adequate. We have generally been quite lucky with the weather too it can be wet, cold and windy at times, but team members come suitably protected and are not put off by a bit of bad weather!


Most of the team naturally consists of retired people, and about 75% are men. Several dogs come along too and seem to enjoy themselves. Our oldest dog has just retired from DGT, being too lame, blind and deaf to be safe any more.


This year personal protective equipment has been provided, and smart, bump caps with "Dean Green Team" embroidered on them have been issued. Most members also have steel-capped footwear. Several members have gained first aid qualifications. Accidents have been minor, few and far between, but it is reassuring to know that there is always someone present who can deal with it.


We used to spend most of our Tuesdays volunteering at Forestry Commission sites but now our tasks are more 50/50 Forestry Commission and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. GWT has recently taken over many FC sites to manage for wildlife. There are a number of heathland restoration projects such as Edge Hills Bog and Tidenham Chase, at opposite ends of the Forest of Dean. In the absence of grazing animals these places want to become forest so they are constant effort sites weeding out the seedling birch, which will keep us busy for years! At one site we removed deer fencing, rolling up the wire netting for removal, as the coppice had grown and was nearly ready to recoppice. Another site had just been coppiced, and we used the brash to build deer fencing around the stools so that they could regenerate. At a number of sites we widen overgrown rides and cut scallops into the woodland to encourage flowering plants and butterflies as well as other invertebrates and snakes. There are several ponds we visit which have become very overgrown, and our task is to clear them and open them up to improve them for aquatic life.


Probably our most difficult site is Stenders quarry where we have been clearing the tangled growth. This is now being successfully held in check by a flock of sheep which seem not to object to the near-vertical terrain!


Tuesdays are not always all hard work. We do butterfly surveys or plant surveys at the proper times of year. Among our members there are many who have good knowledge of wildlife which they share, and we often see things of interest. Because many of our tasks involve cutting out weed trees, it is an unusual Tuesday when we do not have at least one big bonfire going, and sometimes three or four. There is always friendly competition between the bonfire builders, and even on the wettest of days our experts can get a good blaze going!


The growing number of volunteers who come regularly is a testament to the enjoyment people get, not only from feeling that they are doing something worthwhile, but from being part of a friendly group where jovial banter is part and parcel of the experience.


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