In 1989 the Magog Down had one strip of woodland across the skyline - Little Trees Wood - and a rather patchy mixed perimeter hedge. The planting of five new woods and the extension and strengthening of the original woods started in March 1991. In nine months over 20,000 trees and shrubs were planted supplied by Cambridgeshire County Council together with others from individuals who had grown them on from seedlings. Only native British trees suitable to the local soil conditions have been used which has meant that the Trust has had regretfully to turn down some generous offers.
At planting, in pre-dug holes, most trees were 1 - 3 feet in height. Essential weed control to reduce competition for light, and more importantly for water and nutrients, has been by the limited use of a non-residual contact herbicide in the immediate vicinity of the trees, combined with mechanical cutting between the rows. Despite two dry growing seasons, there had been minimal tree loss up to July 1992. The downland in places has only a very thin skim of top soil and in most parts the hard porous chalk substratum is only inches below the surface.
The whole of the Vestey wood, and the majority of the Memorial, Youth and Magog woods were planted by volunteers, and many individuals and organisations have contributed financially to the essential maintenance and up-keep.
The names of the woods reflect some of the history of the Magog Trust, the support given to it, its links with the local community, and the help we have received.
- Colin's wood - Colin Davison, Vicar of Stapleford until his untimely death in 1989, was a key mover in getting this innovative project started.
- Vestey wood - to mark the interest-free loan from Edmund Vestey which contributed substantially to the purchase of the land.
- Memorial wood -for those who support trees in memory of loved ones. Trees are numbered to enable sponsors to follow their progress.
- Youth wood - planted substantially by local schools and youth groups.
- Magog wood- the onginal skyline wood now broadened and extended. The trees here are also supported by sponsors, and numbered.
- Villedomer wood - Villedomer, in the Loire region of France, is twinned with Stapleford village.
In 20 years time the woods will be a haven for a variety of birds, small mammals and insects. No longer will the perimeter fence be needed (to keep out the rabbits who enjoy young tree shoots) and the profile of the whole downland will be altered and we believe improved. During that time long term active management will be important to ensure that the woods grow healthily. The earthbanks in the car park were planted with shrubs during the autumn of 1992 and the perimeter hedge was improved and consolidated over the next few years.
Financial support for site preparation, tree purchase and initial maintenance came from central and local government grants, the Farm Woodland Scheme, the Countryside Commission Premium Scheme and the County Council, augmented by sponsorship of trees by members of the public.
The continuing maintenance is the responsibility of the Trust and its supporters.
It costs approximately £30 to maintain 100 trees in any one year.
Currently the Trust has 20,000 trees and shrubs to maintain with more shrub planting planned.
Map of the Down
Trees and Shrubs on the Down
|• Ash||• Blackthorn|
|• Small-leaved Lime
|• Yew||• Hazel|
|• Oak||• Dog Rose|
|• Field Maple||• Dogwood|
|• Cherry||• Purging Buckthorn|
|• Hornbeam||• Privet|
|• Horse Chestnut||• Blackberry|
|• Sycamore||• Holly|
|• Beech||• Hawthorn|