CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Berkshire Life today CLICK HERE

How you can help preserve a precious Chilterns site

PUBLISHED: 11:48 08 October 2014 | UPDATED: 11:48 08 October 2014

The beauty of Yoeden Bank in September, photo: John Morris

The beauty of Yoeden Bank in September, photo: John Morris

Archant

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust need your help to buy a precious Chilterns site. Wendy Tobitt tells the story of Yoesden Wood

Why do we care about Chiltern countryside? If we spend an hour walking through a Chilterns wood of majestic beech, yew and ash trees and admire a swathe of grassland filled with colourful wild flowers and butterflies, how should we measure the value of that hour?

The views of rolling Chilterns countryside are valued by house owners and property developers.

But who cares to put a pure intrinsic value on our peace of mind and, perhaps, the physical benefits that we’ve enjoyed during the hour’s stroll?

This is one of the questions that politicians and economists, along with wildlife and conservation organisations, are tussling with as they work out the value of ‘ecosystems services’: the value of nature and wildlife that we can enjoy every day in financial and abstract terms.

Which brings me to the appreciation of Yoesden Wood, a relatively small but extraordinary woodland between Bledlow Ridge and Radnage, just west of High Wycombe.

During the 19th century, and possibly earlier, Yoesden Wood was looked after by local bodgers, craftsmen with pole lathes set up in the woods to make chair legs and spindles using timber from ash and beech trees growing tall and straight from the chalk.

The bodgers took care of the woodland, making it a valuable renewable resource by encouraging natural re-growth and planting new trees to fill gaps.

But Yoesden isn’t just a woodland, there’s the swathe of grassland as well. With very little soil on top of the chalk, the west-facing Yoesden Bank is a notable wildlife haven.

Then there’s the ‘hole in the wood’ an open knoll covered with anthills cloaked with yellow flowers of rock rose. In September, this is filled with a breathtaking display of violet-coloured Devil’s-bit scabious flowers.

Scenery we take for granted?

Yoesden Wood and Bank clothes the western slope of Bledlow Ridge, and forms a perfect backdrop to the valley surrounding Radnage village with its 12th century Knights’ Templars church. But how many of us take such stunning scenery for granted?

When the site came onto the market 20 years ago Martin Spray, then the director of the local wildlife trust, visited with Iain Corbyn, who was senior conservation officer at the time.

Iain recalls: “As Martin and I walked through the field, chalkhill blue butterflies were flying up around us, it was stunning. The trust didn’t have the funds to buy the site, and because it has no legal protection we feared it might be lost due to neglect or agricultural improvement.”

Fortunately, a local family in Radnage, who saw the woodland across the valley from their home, literally bought the view because they loved it so much and valued it as a special place to enjoy wildlife and walk with friends.

With advice from John Morris of the Chiltern Woodland Project and a few grants they ensured it was looked after well. Volunteer work parties kept paths open, gates maintained, planted trees and cleared scrub to open up viewpoints.

Yoesden Wood and Bank is a County Wildlife Site, and lies within the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; but it has no statutory legal protection in spite of the best efforts of English Nature, some time ago, to designate it a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The distinctive character of chalk grassland in the Chilterns is of national importance. It’s astonishing to realise that 80 percent of the UK’s chalk grassland has been destroyed since the 1950s, which means Yoesden Bank is indeed a valuable site to treasure.

This autumn the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is raising funds to buy Yoesden Wood and Bank. Iain Corbyn, who is now a BBOWT trustee, revisited recently. “I was delighted to see this vital fragment of classic chalk grassland in such good condition, thanks to many years of careful management by the owners. If the appeal is successful we will survey the site in detail and draw up management plans to continue to look after the woodland and the chalk grassland in perpetuity.”

The tricky question of how we should value the ‘ecosystem services’ of an hour spent enjoying the woodland paths and bank of wild flowers and butterflies remains unresolved!

To find out more about the BBOWT appeal to buy Yoesden Wood and Bank, visit bbowt.org.uk.

--------------------------------------------------

Read on

Macdonald Windsor Hotel takes delivery of two brand new bee hives

Water vole appeal in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Berkshire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Berkshire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Berkshire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 12:01

Our guide to some of the best displays taking place across Berkshire this year

Read more
Yesterday, 11:56

The Blackbird at Bagnor has a nest we can all settle in, courtesy of the engaging patron

Read more
Yesterday, 11:42

Discover food, fashion and a great community spirit in this buzzing market town

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

A look back at some of the best Berkshire photography shared on Instagram this week…

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Our guide to some of the best Halloween events on offer across Berkshire this October

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

We’re heading to the west of Reading for a wander through historic Ashampstead and Yattendon, home of the West Berkshire Brewery

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

It may be known for its regal connections, but Windsor is also home to a number of restaurants and pubs fit for royalty. We round up some of the best…

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Berkshire this month

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

We could go on and on about how great the waterways of Berkshire are. Let’s just look instead…

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

With the North Wessex Downs, Windsor’s Long Walk and a whole host of beautiful towns and villages, Berkshire is an amazing place for a stroll

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rolling through Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, the North Wessex Downs are truly picturesque from all angles, so let’s appreciate that for a moment…

Read more
Monday, September 17, 2018

Steve Davison takes us across a patchwork of ancient fields in the North Wessex Downs as we visit Jude Fawley’s ‘Marygreen’

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

You really do get a whole new idea of what Berkshire looks like from up in the skies

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

We have at least two of your September weekends sorted: take a journey of discovery around the studios of local artists

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Berkshire Life weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search