Forest Restoration ~ Introduction and Quick Reading Summary

The South Leigh Forest Restoration is the idea of local resident, David Brooks, who is autistic. It is based on his concern for the environment and the depletion of woodland over time, mainly by farming and urbanisation.

THE VISION: 'To regrow the South Leigh Forest of the past as closely as possible.'


  1. To plant 200 trees in and around South Leigh in each of the next five years and so
  2. Achieve 1,000 plantings by 2025.
  3. New targets will be set for ensuing years.
  4. At no cost to the Parish Council. The indicative budget for 2020 is 1,000.

  1. The scheme will be self-funding. Money will be raised and materials sourced by volunteers who will run the scheme.
  2. This plan was agreed by the South Leigh Parish Council on 7th January 2020.
  3. Expert advice will be sought, throughout.
  4. The Parish Clerk is investigating liability and insurance issues.
  5. It will report to the PC as appropriate.
  6. It will be an inclusive, well-communicated community programme for all ages and abilities.

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Steering group: David Brooks, John Ashwell, Martin Spurrier. Volunteers will source and plant trees,and their sites, in and around South Leigh. In the early phases, locations visible to the public and in close proximity to the centres of habitation, will be given priority.

There will be single-tree and multiple-tree plantings. It is planned to expand from single trees to copses of 20 or more, later.

The trees will range from 'self-set' seedlings of a few inches to larger potted and / or 'established' trees. This is a long-term programme, although every effort will be made to make a positive visual impact as early as is practicable.

  1. Land owners' consents will be requested and recorded in every case.
Today's global environment is in crisis and trees naturally address the causes of global warming. The scheme also supports the rural tenet of our Neighbourhood Plan and endorses the importance of our countryside setting and bucolic views.

This outline plan addresses the next five years, although it is hoped that the scheme will continue indefinitely.

For further information, please contact Martin Spurrier

  01993 702808  or    07799 368464


Update ~ November 2021

Estate agrees to more tree planting

As we go to press, we have just received great news from Savills, the land agents for the Eynsham Park Estate, that we may plant more trees on estate land in the village!

This agreement has taken almost a year because of Covid and because of new legislation that landowners have been trying to get to grips with. In the meantime, we have been given the green light to plant on the west side of Church End from Margery Cross to the Village Hall, and along the north side of Chapel Road from Margery Cross to Acre Cottage.

The Church End planting is very exciting because the new trees will replace the former great elms that are shown in Phyllis Broome’s South Leigh Remembered, Book One, in a picture from the 1930s, shown here with thanks to Phyllis.

We have the agreement for the areas marked 1 and 4 on the plan below, which was sent to Savills for the estate’s consideration. Area 2 and another area not shown here have not been agreed but, equally, have not been refused. Indeed, Savills’ letter says, “…we can certainly keep the discussion open and continue to identify possible locations”.

The plan shows where we shall plant this winter, although we now need to find the money for the trees! If we are to plant trees similar to those in the first planting in Chapel Road, we shall need about £500 (or twice that amount if they are taller as at the football field), so we’ll be applying for grants immediately.

The problem with grants is they usually take quite some time to be processed. Additionally, we can’t apply until we have agreed planting sites, nor are they usually retro-active. Chickens and eggs!

If anyone would like to help plant or to contribute to the costs, please let any member of the Parish Council and me know.

Martin Spurrier 07799 368464 and David Brooks.

South Leigh Forest Restoration logo
Church End in the 1930s
New planting map November 2021
Local writer remembers South Leigh

Author of the much loved 'South Leigh Remembered' books and a resident born and bred in South Leigh, Phyllis Broome has dedicated an oak tree to her wider family.

Phyllis thought that as her brother, Chris, was partly involved in felling some of the trees years ago it would be good to put a little back. Phyllis lived in South Leigh until she got married and then moved to Witney. Nicky Brooks, chair of the Parish Council said, "Phyllis told me that she’d like to plant a memorial tree and happily the South Leigh Forest Restoration Group were about to plant a dozen trees along Chapel Road close to where Phyllis lived. So she has dedicated the oak that is nearest to Wayside Cottage."

Phyllis said, "I am delighted to have dedicated an oak that will grow for many years in the place I love and I am thrilled that the current residents of Wayside Cottage have agreed to plant another tree, a wild cherry, in the garden."

Phyllis’s family lived at Wayside Cottage for 60 years plus. It is owned by the National Trust and is medieval grade two listed and amongst the oldest houses in the village. Phyllis can trace her Harris family of South Leigh back to the 1600s.

Phyllis Broome (December 2020)

Phyllis Broome

Update ~ June 2021

I am very happy to report that every single one of the 50 + trees we planted at the football field, in Chapel Road and in Stanton Harcourt Road, as well as the others that we sheltered or rescued, are growing well. As the summer comes, though, more work starts and you’ll see the old Land Rover out with our 500 litre water tank! We mustn't lose any by letting them dry out in their first year. We are still searching for land to plant on in the autumn. If you have any or know any that is accessible, visible and near the village, please let me know.

Deer oh deer!

When I say 'sheltered', on the left you can see what can happen if you don't put the plastic tree shelters on. This is a lovely tree that we staked but left the shelter off by accident overnight and the deer ripped off the bark in the twinkle of an eye. We taped it up and it's doing fine.

Martin Spurrier, June 2021

South Leigh Forest Restoration logo
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Update ~ March 2021

Report to the Parish Council and Supporters on the first phase of the South Leigh Forest Restoration, 10th March 2021

Further to our report at the 15th January Parish Council meeting, here is the wrap-up of Phase 1.

We pressed on with ordering the trees in January / February for the three sites for which we had permission to plant in order not to miss the best of the planting season.

The sites were the Football Field, Just Cartridges' drive east, and the Burys’ Triangle in Stanton Harcourt Road. We also planted a second 'dedicated' tree, sponsored by Mrs. Phyllis Broome, at Wayside Cottages, where she lived as a child and her family lived for 60 years.

Just when we were ordering the trees, we received a very generous anonymous donation and this enabled us to change the order so that we could have much more mature and hence, taller trees from the outset at the Football Field and the Burys’ Triangle. So, the February / March plantings are around 2 metres; some are taller.

We can now report that, since the Parish Council meeting on 2nd March, all the trees planned to be planted and for which we had sites, are planted. This accords with our proposal approved by the Parish Council in January 2020 and agreed by the landowners.

These trees, plus those planted on private land and gardens, total about 85. The species that we have planted are: English Oak, Beech, Hornbeam, Silver Birch, Rowan, Field Maple and Wild Cherry, as recommended by Mike Kirk of Hadingham Kirk Gardens Ltd. and TOE (Trust for Oxfordshire Environment).

Invaluable funders and supporters THANK YOU!

Here, we want to express our sincere thanks to some 30 people who have helped us make this happen.

Landowners, the Eynsham Park Estate and Sophie Tidy of their agent, Savills; David and Trish Bury of Warner’s Farm, who have made the programme possible by allocating land to us and the Burys’ Farm Manager, Phil Barbour. Thank you so much. From the outset, South Leigh resident, Mike Kirk, has helped with his gift of our first three tall elms, advice, his time and supplying all our other trees at an amazing price and County Councillor Charles Mathew for vital early funding. Thank you.

This project has been supported by: The Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment with funding from Grundon Waste Management Ltd. and we thank them and TOE’s Operations Manager, Rachel Sanderson for her help.

We want to thank the Parish Council for its help and support throughout.

Mrs. Phyllis Broome, a former long-term resident of South Leigh has made kind donations and dedicated trees and Liz Ashwell kindly introduced us. And a huge thank you to anonymous donors whose contribution enhanced the programme, fundamentally. Thank you again.

Others in the village have helped us dig holes on site, bang in post and plant the trees. They include: Graham Soame, Oliver Soame, Alan Crowder, John Ashwell, Mike Kirk, Ed Brooks and Caroline and David Auger.

We want to thank others for their advice and support: Marie-Thérèse Elliott, Eileen Mawle, Heather Horner, Ken and Nicky Brooks, John Ashwell, Jackie Johnson, Ros and Tim Lewis and Richard Catling.

This concludes the first phase of the programme in which the village has about 85 more trees than before. This number does not include the large planting north of Station Road, which is not part of our scheme, but greatly adds to the total number of trees planted in and around the village.

Martin Spurrier, March 2021

South Leigh Forest Restoration logo

The next phase

We have learned a lot during this first 15 months - mainly how difficult it is to find suitable land that landowners are happy for us to use.

We have now exhausted all the sites for which we have permission to plant, although Eynsham Park Estate have said that they would consider plantings on the west side of Church End between Margery Cross and the Village Hall (1 on the plan below) to replace the avenue of elms shown in old photographs. Happily, the trees on the east side have been allowed to grow.

We have already written to the Eynsham Park Estate managers asking if we may plant in location 2 and 4 on the plan below, and we are trying to find who owns the large green triangle as it is the ideal site for a small forest that we could plant over time.

This programme is entirely dependent upon land and so we need such a site so that we can still achieve our ambitious objective of 1,000 trees in five years. This will be very hard to meet unless we can find the sites.

We are hopeful that the government’s new agriculture policy might make this easier, but discussions so far with landowners reveal a confused situation.

Any ideas and / or help in finding sites will be very much appreciated.
Our criteria remain unchanged, i.e. Simple, Focussed, Visible, Inclusive, and at no or minimal cost to the Parish Council.

Thank you, Martin and David.

Church End in 1930s
Church End in the 1930s (from South Leigh Remembered)

If you need to know anything else, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Martin Spurrier
  07799 369464 or

Phase 2 map

Stop press ~ 18.11.2020

David and I hope that you are safe and well?

A quick note to say that our eleven trees are finally planted in Chapel Road!

It's a year since David suggested planting trees and we rescued our first baby oaks together. After a beer or two, that was the start of our 'South Leigh Forest Restoration' group.

The trees in Chapel Road are not huge because we were advised that, within hedgerows, the larger they are, the less chance they have of survival. We shall watch them closely and give them plenty of TLC. Please report anything suspicious to us. The trees at the Football Pitch will be significantly taller as they are not competing for light and space.

Again, enormous thanks to Mike Kirk from The Old Chapel, who has given us the trees and lots of advice, Eynsham Park Estate, Savills and everyone else who has supported us.

The first two of today's trees at the west end will be dedicated to the memory of the Harris and Tipping families by Phyliss Broome. Phyllis, a former long-time resident of the village and author of our much-loved 'South Leigh Remembered' Books One and Two, used to live nearby at Wayside Cottages.

The eleven trees are: three oaks, which support more life than any other native tree species in the UK; three hornbeams, which have year-round leaf cover so are wild life Heaven and can live for 300 years; 3 x beech, a variety known as the 'Queen of British' trees and can live up to 1,000 years, and two wild cherry trees, one of the prettiest native trees and can live for 60 years. Birds love the fruit and help propagate them. 

As David reminded me today, "Every big tree was once a small tree". We are up and running!


South Leigh Forest Restoration logo
David Brooks & Martin Spurrier

Several residents have asked about the species of the planted trees and, in particular, the ones opposite their own houses. You can find out here: Each tree stake and shelter is now discreetly numbered from 1 to 11 starting from the west, near Wayside and Shuttles cottages. Other than starting with an oak because that is what Phyllis Broome requested, the rest were planted randomly, as you can see. The species are:

1Quercus roburOak
2Fagus sylvaticaBeech
3Prunus aviumWild / Sweet Cherry
4Carpinus betulus featheredHornbeam
5Quercus roburOak
6Carpinus betulus featheredHornbeam
7Fagus sylvaticaBeech
8Fagus sylvaticaBeech
9Quercus roburOak
10Carpinus betulus featheredHornbeam
11Prunus aviumWild / Sweet Cherry

If you need to know anything else, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Martin Spurrier
  07799 369464 or

Forest Restoration ~ November 2020 update

We hope to have planted our first eleven trees along Chapel Road. Having received consent from Eynsham Park Estate and having all the legal documentation in place, on 14th October, David, Graham and Martin cranked up the auger and got digging the eleven holes along the Chapel Road hedge line, north side. We were ably supported by Jackie’s Meals on Wheels and her coffee and bikkies saved the day.

3 oaks, 2 wild cherry, 3 beech, 3 hornbeam
3 oaks, 2 wild cherry, 3 beech, 3 hornbeam

Next steps: We have applied to the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE) for a small grant that will see us through the next plantings at the Football Field, by Just Cartridges’ drive (again, thanks to Eynsham Park), and in Stanton Harcourt Road opposite Warners Farm, thanks to Mr. and Mrs David Bury. These will add up to about thirty more trees to make out total for the year about eighty.

Securing planting sites has proven a very slow exercise this year. This has been, partly, because new government agricultural legislation is imminent and, understandably, land owners want to see what the rules will say before committing land to us. We keep our fingers crossed that it will be favourable to tree planting in the new year.

Martin Spurrier, November 2020

Tree planting team

Forest Restoration ~ October 2020 update

It’s been a year and a month since David Brooks wrote in the South Leigh Newsletter, "Let’s grow trees for the Parish and the world - I have had an idea that I would like to share with residents of South Leigh”… and not for a moment since has that ambition diminished. However, this simple idea proved to be quite hard to implement, BUT we are finally ready to dig!

Why so long? We’ll save you a lot of time by providing here just the results of the last ten months since we received the Parish Council’s go ahead, rather than detail the processes!

We now have in place:

Four planting sites agreed with their landowners / lease holder. Click on the map for an enlarged version. They are:

  1. Chapel Road, north side.
  2. Football field, north and east sides. *
  3. Just Cartridges drive, east side.
  4. Stanton Harcourt Road at Warners Farm / the drive to Tarwood Lodge.
* The Football Field agreement is pending the imminent renewal of the lease by Eynsham Park Estate.

Chapel Road residents’ agreement
  • Signed landowners’ legal agreements.
  • Approved landowner planting plans.
  • Insurance.
  • Finance.

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My Image

Map © Google Earth

Map © Google Earth

With regard to money, we are not quite there but we have the scheme underwritten, anyway. We have submitted an application (20+ pages, twice!) to TOE (Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment) for the princely sum of £238.15, and their advisor has been here and inspected each of the sites with us. We’ll hear in December.

The Chapel Road planting is not included in the TOE submission because Mike Kirk of the Old Chapel and Hadingham Kirk Gardens has kindly given those 2 metre trees to us, as he did the 7 metre elms at the Just Cartridges’ drive back in April on Captain Tom’s (now Colonel Sir Tom’s) 100th birthday!

We have purchased privately the petrol auger and hedge cutting kit, we have the stakes and shelters in stock, and we have made a 500 litre water bowser. We also have some funds for the mulch and water bags, if needed. So, that took a year!

But, in the next few months we will have planted our first 79 trees, despite Corvid-19!

We plan to start preparing the Chapel Road ground next week, all being well. Anyone who would like to help will be most welcome. Just contact Martin for details:

Thank you to landowners: Eynsham Park Estate and their agents, Savills and Mr. & Mrs David Bury. Also to Mike Kirk, Councillor Charles Mathew and the South Leigh Parish Council, all of whom have made it possible.

Martin Spurrier (09.10.2020)
  07799 369464 or

Forest Restoration ~ An outline plan

David's vision is:

'To regrow the South Leigh Forest of the past as closely as possible'

South Leigh view

Looking south east across the de-forested parish


  1. To plant 200 trees in and around South Leigh in each of the next five years and so
  2. To achieve 1,000 plantings by 2025.
  3. New targets will be set for ensuing years.
  4. At no cost to the Parish Council. The indicative budget for 2020 is £1,000.
How will the Objectives be achieved?

It is easy to try to do too much, in too many places, too soon and thus dilute effort and reduce visible results. The Objectives shall be achieved, therefore, through the scheme being:

Simple, Focussed, Visible, Inclusive, and at no cost to the Parish Council.
If any planned activity does not answer positively to these five criteria, it is not on strategy and should not be pursued.

South Leigh Forest Restoration

The Plan will require the following tasks to be performed under the following headings:

  1. Administration / preparation
  2. Funding and Finance
  3. Land
  4. Trees and Protection

Lone trees
  1. Administration / preparation

  1. Establishing the management team and relationship with the Parish Council.
  2. Establishing the communication structure and communications plan. Recruiting additional volunteers.
  3. Deciding what needs to be done and by whom. Scheduling the work.

  1. Funding and Finance

  1. Income.
  2. Expenditure.

  1. Land

  1. Identifying sites.
  2. Seeking and gaining land owners' agreements.

  1. Trees and Protection

  1. Types of tree planting.
  2. Sourcing stakes and tree shelters.
  3. Seeking technical advice.
  4. Planting.
  5. Ongoing maintenance.

  1. Administration

1.1. Establishing the management team and relationship with the Parish Council.

The steering committee comprises David Brooks, John Ashwell and Martin Spurrier. John Ashwell has offered to represent the PC. Other members would be recruited.

1.2. Establishing the communication structure and communications plan recruiting additional volunteers.

Reporting to whom, when and how? The PC reporting obligations will be established and recorded.

The Parish Clerk is investigating appropriate liability and insurance issues and is checking whether the scheme is covered by existing policies.

Keeping the PC and the community informed will ensure that this is a ‘community’ project. We shall use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as e-mail and the Parish website.

We shall involve the media to generate interest in the scheme both for recruiting volunteers and funding. We shall be approaching local schools, especially Forest Schools and those that South Leigh children attend, to encourage their involvement.

We will also seek to place stories and updates in the South Leigh Newsletter and communicate via the PC’s email list and the village website to generate two-way communications (as well as to recruit volunteers to help, especially youngsters!).

1.3. Deciding what needs to be done and by whom.

This is the role of any group management in order to ensure efficiency and to avoid duplication and wasted effort.

  1. Establishing a budget and funding

2.1. Income: There will be three principal sources of income:

  1. Private contributions in cash and time: Where individuals wish to contribute either, they will be encouraged to do so and this will be recorded appropriately.
  2. Private funding for ‘dedicated’ trees: Where donors wish to pay for a specific planting. This may be a single tree or many. Such trees may also have dedications attached to them in an appropriate manner. Later we may formalise fund raising, perhaps under categories e.g. Oak, Ask, Willow etc.
  3. Government and NGO funds / grants: There are many grants available and, over time, we shall research each and apply for them as appropriate e.g. OVO Energy, the Oxfordshire Woodland Group, Forest of Oxford, the Woodland Trust, The National Forest, DEFRA’s Woodland Creation Planning Grant, The Tree Council’s Tree Future’s Grant Scheme, The Forestry Commission, International Tree Foundation, United Nations Environmental ‘Plant for the Planet’ programme etc all have schemes.
2.2. Expenditure: There are four principal cost items (until we use contractors, i.e. labour costs, for large-scale planting):
  1. Trees
  2. Tree shelters
  3. Stakes
  4. Cable ties
(See Appendix A for more detail).

  1. Land

3.1. Identifying sites: This will start immediately and all will be plotted on a map for reference.

3.2. Seeking and gaining permission: We have sounded out the Eynsham Estate contractor with a positive response. The Estate and other land owners will be approached, accordingly. We have already received one dedication request.

Where it is common land or land owned or controlled by the OCC, we shall keep the PC informed.

Planting on verges can be done under Section 142 of the Highways Act through application to the OCC.

  1. Trees and Protection

4.1. Types of tree planting: It is envisaged that there will be three:

Hedgerow planting / protection: Here, ‘self set’ saplings of a few inches tall (right) will be found along existing hedge lines, and ‘rescued’. They will be cleared of grass (their worst enemy even before rabbits!), at no cost, and then staked and provided with a tree shelters for protection, at a cost. At this size, they can also easily be moved (we have 30 potted already, see end for pictures). Larger, well positioned saplings will be treated similarly but without re-location.

Specific plantings: Here, individual members of the Parish may wish to pay for a tree, or several, to be planted in a specific place and, maybe, for a specific purpose. One such request/offer has already been received. Tree sizes will depend on the project.

Copse creation: Here, later in the programme, we envisage the planting of copses of say 20 trees upwards to several acres.

4.2: Sourcing stakes and tree shelters. See Appendix A.

We shall seek professional advice before making novice mistakes. We shall always seek to have such expert advice provided on a complimentary basis (see end for references).

In order to achieve the objective and not to over promise nor to over expect, it is proposed to take ‘baby steps’ (multiple phases) both in the scope of work and in the geographic distance from the centre of population. We shall regard Lymbrook Close as the centre.

4.4. Planting: This can occur generally at any time although the best is early spring, say February/March, depending on the weather (for the planters, not the trees!). We see there being two phases in the first year, Phase 1 being ‘self-set trees’ and Phase 2 being 'purchased trees'. The timing will depend largely upon permission from land owners.

4.5. Ongoing maintenance.
Fortunately, there is little maintenance to the hedgerow tree plantings. Simply removing grass now and then and replacing any trees that do not survive. In Martin Spurrier's experience this is significantly less than 10 percent. We shall keep a map showing every tree site and will ensure that they are checked and maintained periodically.


This is a simple and endearing environmental scheme initiated by a 25-year-old local resident. Many will benefit from it - those in the South Leigh community who choose to become involved as well as those who choose otherwise. It will also add to the area's natural beauty that is enjoyed by a much wider population.

The scheme endorses the Neighbourhood Plan and will further beautify the village and its surroundings; it will help address global warming; it will provide habitat for fauna, and it will replace forest lost to progress. Everyone will benefit while it will cost the Parish Council nothing.

Estimated Costs and Indicative Budget

Tree shelters and Stakes (best purchased together):

There are numerous suppliers on the internet and three quotes are below for information. However, through our own local trade contacts, it may be possible to buy at more competitive prices and to ‘involve’ local firms. These quotes are for 100 of each, but the unit cost is less for 300 upwards.

Internet prices

Tubex Tree Shelter 1.2m (If we buy 100)

Softwood treated stakes 1.2m (If we buy 100)

Britishhardwood *


69p each



63p each

Gardensupplies (eBay)


£1.69 each

* Martin Spurrier uses Britishhardwood and finds them very responsive plus there are further discounts available.

Based on the above guidelines, here is the proposed indicative budget for 2020:

Indicative initial budget for 2020

Phase 1: Protection for 'self-set' hedgerow protected / 'rescued' trees:
Trees: nil
Labour: nil
200 x tree shelters, stakes and cable ties: £650

Phase 2: Purchased trees:

Indicative tree purchase - say the Woodland Trust 'starter packs' x 3 = £150
Tree 'whips' and up to 500mm at approx. £1-3 per tree, say = £200
TOTAL: £1,000

Every effort will be made to achieve the best prices through supplier and trade contacts, in which case, surplus funds will be held for tree purchases.

Notes for background information and reference:
Expert advice: We shall approach the Woodland Trust, which provides such services free. Others include The Forest of Oxford, which is linked to the Oxfordshire Woodland Group (a registered charity that we should probably join) and part of the Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum (ONCF), Natural England and CPRE. All offer assistance, some also provide grants, as noted above.

OCC Tree Team is: 0345 3101111.
Trees: The Woodland Trust provides free packs to schools and communities (see below). However, we need to have the permission of the landowner and the grid references before applying for them. Distribution is in March so we may not have time for this by March 2020 (but we shall try). We shall definitely do this for 2021.

Tree costs: Woodland Trust sells Copse Starter Packs of 30 saplings for £49.95. See below:
For general information, the blog, ‘arbtalk’ cites £5,500 for 10 acres planting 60cm ‘whips’. This includes shelters and stakes but no fencing. Thus, the unit cost is dramatically lower for large plantings.

Whips and small trees (500mm) cost £1-3 each and mature trees of 7-12 m tall cost about £200 each.

Woodland Trust Copse starter pack

"Create a piece of paradise with this copse pack. Plant a mini forest school classroom or a peaceful spot that’s an oasis for birds. With 30 trees per pack, you will receive Silver birch, Rowan and Wild cherry, perfect for your own small, tranquil copse.

Estimate full grown height: Rowan: 8-15m, Silver birch: 15-20m and Wild cherry: 18-25m.
Purchase size and growth: These trees are cell-grown saplings, ranging from approximately 15cm-60cm in height. Cell grown trees can be planted all year round in most situations as long as they are given the correct care. Please be aware that depending upon the time of year you receive your sapling (particularly early spring) it may not look very perky upon arrival, please do not worry once it has been planted it should pick up quickly".

For further information, please contact Martin Spurrier

  01993 702808  or    07799 368464