A second survey over about 5 years 2002/2007
This was undertaken to assess the status of the trees after a period of time and to make note of any changes.
It was undertaken by volunteers from Countryside Management, using larger scale maps from the original survey. Unfortunately the information gathered, although useful, could not be collated in detail in relation to the original mapping.
Pollarding and Management.
During 2002/2003 Grants provided through Countryside Management enabled pollarding and the management of about 30 vulnerable trees during the early spring of these years. Local owners were offered funding, which was advertised through the local Village News. The work was done by a reputable tree surgeon with an interest and knowledge of the needs of Black Poplars. Over £8000 was made available and the status of these trees was checked in 2009
2003/4 saw the first new plantings which proved most unsuccessful. A combination of planting in the autumn with little or no root stock and a following dry spring and summer, taught us that we needed to change our strategy.
2007/8 and Dec 2009. We had learnt the lessons of earlier mistakes. Having grown on over a hundred cuttings on an allotment locally around 80 have proved highly successful. With good rooting stock, planted out in the early spring and protected from eating deer, cattle and rabbits they have proved to be healthy young trees. All are mapped and were checked in 2010.
Black Poplar Walk.
In 2006 a Black poplar walk of about 5 miles was established using footpaths, gates and stiles and with signs to make the route clear. A leaflet was produced, available in pubs and libraries which have brought many visitors into the area and raised the profile and significance of Black Poplars.
Sampling for D.N.A.
In 2008 36 samples were taken from the area of the original survey, particularly from the periphery to establish the provenance of our Black Poplars. All were reported to be from one clone, exactly the same clone as the rest of the Aylesbury Vale and not found in the rest of the country. This information makes our Black Poplars unique. They have not been reproduced commercially so cannot be grown on anywhere else.
The work done to establish the D.N.A. of our local trees was done free of charge by Forest Research, who offered us a particular package at this time. Any work needed to be done at the present time will be charged at £40 per sample.
Our original aim was to :-
1) Record the presence of the species in the area
2) Take steps to maintain those individuals which have been recorded
3) Increase the level of planting
4) Educate our local population about the significance of Black Poplars in our local area
All these have been attempted, some with a degree of success, but there is more that we could do. Without the help, both financial and physical of Countryside Management we are at a huge disadvantage. Funding from Dacorum for Countryside Management has been withdrawn so all we can do is raise awareness of The Black Poplar and encourage local owners and interested people to participate in the ongoing management of these trees.
I attend the Black Poplar forum which meets biannually, a gathering where all interested people in the Black Poplars in the British Iles, both professional and amateur, meet to share knowledge and experience.
Margaret Noakes June 2011