A land use survey of the parish carried out by the Group in 1997 showed that only 3.5% of area of the parish was woodland, against 6% for Oxfordshire as a whole. When the SODC was reviewing its land holdings in 1999, the Group enquired about the piece of land at the western end of the village, with the idea of turning it into a community wood. Establishing a wood could involve villagers of all ages, create an asset for future generations, improve the environment and provide a feature marking the Millennium.
The wood is situated at the extreme western end of the village. To clear the land and buy and plant the trees villagers gave donations totalling more than £5000. Funds also came from SODC and the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE). SODC donated the land the wood stands on to the Parish Council in 2008.
The two acre wood is planted with approximately 1000 ash, oak, cherry, whitebeam, malus and other native species. A contractor cleared the site and planted whips alongside the A4130 leaving a central glade of larger oaks. In March 2000 several hundred villagers planted saplings over the remainder of the area and their names were recorded in a beautifully illustrated book.
Over the last 14 years the wood has flourished. Open days have been held to encourage villagers to visit the wood and it is looked after by the scouts, members of the Group and other volunteers.
The trees are growing well and have been inspected by the Oxfordshire Woodland Project to identify which trees will be thinned over the next five years and which trees will remain in the wood for the next 50 years or longer.
The wood attracts lots of insects, birds, and mammals, including some roe deer. The undergrowth has developed and fine blackberries and apples are available to pick in autumn. There are many wild flowers, such as cranesbill and St John’s Wort, in the open glade making it look very colourful. Using Group funds and extra grants, a dry path has been constructed to circle much of the wood easing access and allowing a stroll through the trees with a return across the glade.
You can find more pictures of the Millenium Wood over the years in our photo gallery