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The Sunday Times and the Woodland Trust needs 100.000 volunteers to plan...


By Arlene


Hi There everyone
The Sunday Times and the Woodland Trust are creating a huge forest and now need volunteers to help plant the trees which have been bought with donations from the public and celebrities like Kim Wilde and Sian Lloyd.

If you live or can travel from St Albans,Harpenden,Hatfield etc to the new Heartwood Forest (850 acres nr St Albans)and can give a few hours you can be part of something which will be really big news.The first created softwood forest which will be a beauty spot and wildlife haven twice the size of Regents Park and a rival to Sherwood forest.
See info from The Sunday Times:-
Written by Cosmo Landesman

The project is simple and bold. The trust wants to buy 850 acres of Hertfordshire countryside between St Albans and Harpenden, plant 600,000 trees (including oak, ash, hornbeam and field maple) over the next five years and thus create the biggest natural continuous forest in England.

Toby Bancroft, project manager of the Woodland Trust, tells me: “It will be amazing. Imagine a beautiful woodland that will be nearly twice the size of Sherwood Forest.”

Steve Marsh, another trust worker, adds: “It will be bigger than London’s 770-acre post-2012 Olympic park.”

“Size isn’t everything,” I say as we stroll down a slim country lane and into a slice of woodland.

Steve tries another tack. “Think about the benefits this forest will bring for everyone. Walking through a woodland is great exercise and a good stress buster. Don’t you feel more tranquil already?”

“Er . . . no, not really.” The chaps play the ecological card and I listen patiently to all the various species that will benefit: the great crested newt, bats, nightingales, various forms of fungi and slow worms. “Okay, I’m all for supporting your local friendly form of fungi, but don’t people need housing more than trees?” I ask.

“Of course people need houses – but they also need somewhere to go when they leave those houses,” says Steve. “They need a free, quiet space that puts them in touch with nature.”

I can accept that. I guess that I take the beauty of trees and the existence of our great woodlands for granted. They have always been a part of the nation’s sense of self and its historical mythology, so we assume they will be there. However, since the 1930s we have lost 50% of our natural ancient woodland – woodland more than 400 years old. Toby tells me: “Our ancient woodland is our very own rainforest – the place where you find the most diverse forms of animal and insect species. ”

When we reach the proposed site I have to eat my words about size not mattering. It’s impressively huge; as-far-as-the-eye-can-see huge. To appreciate what the Trust wants to do, you have to see what was before me: nothing much. All I could see were fields of wheat and fields of oilseed rape that had been harvested, leaving a vast carpet of bamboo-like stubble. It reminded me of something you see in one of those American films of the 1970s such as Badlands; a small prairie of silence and desolation, embroidered by undulating hills.

“Imagine,” says Toby, “where you’re standing now there would be beautiful silver birch trees and butterflies and birds and . . .”

“Owls, mice, spaces for horses and people to roam,” interrupts Steve.

“Okay, I get the picture. What do you want me to do – hug a tree?”

“Yes!” they cry in unison. Toby and Steve are unashamed tree huggers. The term, I learn, is a scientific one that refers to the diameter of the tree at breast height. Everyone I spoke to at the Woodland Trust is proud to be called a tree hugger.

Clive Anderson, the broadcaster and president of the Woodland Trust, says: “Yes I hug trees – but not on the first date.”

And so I give it a go. The use of tree-hugger as a pejorative – and God knows I’m as guilty as anyone – rests on a false conflict between the so-called demands of progress and the needs for conservation.

Or, to put it another way, houses and roads versus trees and voles. Must it be an either or choice? Can’t we recognise the need for both and strike a healthy balance?

To give me a glimpse of that future Toby and Steve took me along to a near-by bit of ancient forest that will be incorporated into the new woodland. They charged around like excited schoolboys, showing off forms of fungi I didn’t know existed.

At one point we all fell silent and eventually I had my magic nature moment. It’s when you feel a sense of inner quiet and all the aches and anxieties of one’s life just slip away. It’s like sliding into God’s own hot tub.

It’s not just the vision of a new forest that is so appealing but the way the trust wants to carry it out. This will truly be the people’s woodland.

For the people will not only be paying for it through donations, but creating it by turning up and digging and planting saplings of about 18ins. This will be the biggest dig for Britain since the second world war.

“Can you imagine this field with over a thousand volunteers, all with shovels and digging and planting these saplings?” says Steve. “We’re going to have a thousand children digging as well,” Toby tells me.

There have been concerns about protecting all those trees from those deadly diseases that have begun to stalk British woodlands. Toby is confident that this won’t be a problem. Not in his woodland. “We will be planting lots of different species of trees over a period of time,” he says, “so we can monitor what is happening. We’ve never had any problems with our other planting projects.”

A project of this size faces all sorts of other problems. The trust has to raise £8.5m in two months, most of it coming from charitable donations. Sunday Times readers will soon be able – for the modest sum of £15 – to plant a tree in a section of the forest that will be known as The Sunday Times Wood (see next week’s issue for more details).

Enjoying a walk in the woodlands is one of the few leisure activities that everyone can enjoy.

Just think about it: a vast, beautiful woodland can be created for your children and grandchildren and their children for £8.5m. That’s less than the price of a Damien Hirst artwork. It will last a lot longer, too.

We need to support this project, if only to make sure there will be trees to hug in the future.

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Too far away for me, I'm afraid, but what a terrific project! I do hope that lots of people join in and make it a success.

And, yes, I do hug trees!

12 Jan, 2009


Sounds wonderful Arlene - I'm not volunteering though, it reminds me of when we set our 1500 - they were only whips except for the corsican pines and larch - they were in pots. We had a good method going though and I got the best job of putting the whip in place while husband used the spade. We were told of a good technique though - cut a "H".

12 Jan, 2009


Fabulous blog Arlene.It would be a wonderful project for schools to become involved in too....a great way for them to learn about our countryside.Will spread the word at work....some have connections in south....oh its Jane tonight !

12 Jan, 2009


I have done this with our last village conservation , it,s very satisfying to see the mature trees as I pass that way now .
Sorry I shan,t be there Arlene but I wish you well for the day and hope you get as many trees planted as possible :o)

12 Jan, 2009


~ a bit more on this
The Times 50 Oct 2008

The symbolic cutting of a barbed wire fence last week marked the first step in the creation of Britain’s newest forest: an 860-acre site in Hertfordshire to be planted with 600,000 native woodland trees.

The Woodland Trust charity has now completed the purchase of the land for the forest at Sandridge, near St Albans. Part of it will be named The Sunday Times Wood, and readers have already donated money for more than 1,800 trees - enough to cover three acres.

Five hundred years ago, another oak on the site played its own role in English history. It was here, during the second battle of St Albans in 1461, that King Henry VI is reputed to have been held prisoner under a tree by Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the legendary “kingmaker” of the wars of the roses.

Archeologists will be watching the planting of the wood for any relics that are turned up. Warwick the Kingmaker, after a rare defeat, led his Yorkist troops in a retreat across the site of the Sunday Times wood.

Simon West, district archeologist with the Verulamium Museum in St Albans, said: “Much of the weaponry, such as swords and arrows, would have been collected up as spoils of war by the victors and what was left would have been scavenged by local peasants who recycled or sold them.

“But there is every chance of finding things such as daggers, buttons and smaller items like garter hooks.”

Work on the forest can now start in earnest. A new stile was erected last week where the wire was cut to open a footpath along the edge of the land, giving open access for the first time in many years.

One of the first to walk the path was Jean McCann, a conservationist, who described it as a “momentous” day. “The forest will be a marvellous thing,” she said, “teeming with wildlife, and the joy is that it will not be run as a commercial asset but as an asset for everyone to enjoy.

“Sunday Times readers should be thanked and congratulated for their enthusiastic support of the project – their involvement tells the country just how important this is.”

The land, most of which is currently used for cereal crops, will be surveyed over the coming weeks before the first tree is planted later this year.

From tomorrow, however, internet users can also enjoy the atmosphere at Sandridge. The trust is planning to release a podcast that can be used by visitors as an audio guide.

As it develops, the forest will become a haven for rare wildlife and will eventually be as large as Sherwood Forest and Regent’s Park combined.

Andrew Reid, a solicitor who previously owned much of the land, said: “We are extremely pleased the land is to be used for the forest and will be protected and looked after.”

12 Jan, 2009


Woodland Trust info

We are pleased with the way fundraising for the site has gone at Sandridge (now called Heartwood Forest) and, on the back of this, we have gone ahead and purchased the site.

However, there is still a long way to go to raise all the funds required to plant and manage the site, so we are still urgently appealing for help to realise our ambition of creating the largest new native forest in England.

Public access is now available on 170 acres of the site - please download the map to see the areas that you can visit.

12 Jan, 2009


Fabulous project.
Thanks for giving all this information :o)

12 Jan, 2009


Near here I've seen two woods up for sale. I wonder who'll buy them and what will be their fate ?
I think it's a great project but too far from here.

12 Jan, 2009


This is a wonderful project Arlene. We hope it is well supported and a huge success.Thank you for sharing the details with us.
All best wishes.

12 Jan, 2009


What an inspiring project. Wish I lived nearer - too far for me and my trike! Hope all goes well with the planting.

12 Jan, 2009


Wonderful Project Arlene, and Im sure that it will be a great success. Thankyou for passing on the details...A brilliant enviromental project

12 Jan, 2009


~ hi everyone~
I have donated my £15 online and expect to get all the info/certificate etc in the post ~I am not sure whether they will give you the opportunity to go and plant your little tree yourself~I believe that is possible~if that is the case I will try to go when we are on one of our planned trips to Kew/Wisley etc in Feb and March and will of course take photos whilst there. However if they are organising specific dates it may not be quite so easy to go.More info to follow!

12 Jan, 2009


I wish I could come and help. But just a touch too far for me to go. It sounds like a great project. We are losing so many forests all over the world. It would be great to be involved with putting something back.

13 Jan, 2009


Wow thank you for this blog. I'm going to check whether you can plant when you choose or whether there are specific dates and then see if I can go. What a great thing to say you helped create, I love it!

13 Jan, 2009


More from the Woodland Trust

Why support this campaign to plant England‘s largest new native forest, when there are so many worthy causes?
Well, trees and woodland are crucial to life on our planet. They generate oxygen for us to breathe, store carbon, provide homes to a spectacular variety of wildlife, provide us with raw materials and help stabilise the soil.
They offer us quiet places to relax within in the increasingly hectic modern world.
A world without trees and woodland would be barren, impoverished and intolerable. Yet the simple fact is that the UK is one of the least wooded places in Europe and ancient woodlands (like the four remnants on this site) now make up only 2% of our UK land cover.
During the last century, 46 of our woodland species have disappeared and a further 78 are endangered.
Ancient woodland is our equivalent of the rainforests - once lost, it is irreplaceable.
Added to all the development pressures, the Woodland Trust believes that climate change is the single largest threat to ancient woodland. In their current state, small isolated woods are simply not sustainable in a time of rapid environmental change.
Large sites (like the 858 acre site in question), if in a favourable condition, are far more robust for our wildlife in the face of climate change.
In addition, this largescale woodland creation project would contribute to the English national target of the
Native Woodland Habitat Action Plan to ’expand the area of native broadleaved woodland by 26,000 ha by 2010 through … creating native woodland on ex-agricultural land.‘
We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the site into a flourishing forest for the future.
Please support our campaign

13 Jan, 2009


Great thing to do, but like most live to far away, but hope everything goes well.

13 Jan, 2009


Hi, what a super blog. All very interesting stuff. It is too far away for me. But wish all involved every success.

In my part of Yorkshire, we have odd remnants of the ancient Sherwood Forest left, (It did cover a really huge area) there are some very lovely old trees, but I think it is a great idea to plant new ones for future generations to enjoy.

Will have a look at the Woodland Trust site. Thank you Marge.

13 Jan, 2009


This is for Eileen!
This is from the BBC

It's an unheard-of gift - but one that will preserve ancient woodlands outside Londonderry for centuries to come.

An "anonymous Canadian tree enthusiast" has donated £150,000 to the Woodland Trust to purchase a 58-acre site between Oaks Wood and Ervey Wood at Burntollet near Derry.

The site - which has already been named Burntollet Wood - is to be planted with thousands of trees to link existing woodlands.

It will also create a buffer zone to protect local flora and fauna, which include the endangered red squirrel.

Gregor Fulton from the Woodland Trust explained that the area had always been wooded.

"The earliest maps we have date from the 16th century, and the area is marked as woodland on those maps," he said.

We want local people to have a sense of ownership of the woods
Gregor Fulton
Woodland Trust
"Obviously woodlands are now rarer, and need more protection.

"This money will allow us to create a buffer zone along the edges of the ancient woodland which will protect the woodland and the species in it.

"Fauna like the red squirrel will now have a larger area to inhabit, and will move into the new woods straight away," said Mr Fulton.

"Flora is a different matter, it can take centuries to encroach into a new area, but now we've got centuries.

"Once these trees are planted, they will be there forever," he said.

Map of woods outside Derry
Burntollet Wood will link Oaks Wood to Ervey Wood

The charity aims to plant 38,000 native trees, mainly oak, on the Burntollet site.

The new land will also make it easier for the public to access the woods.

"We will add another kilometre in pathways, and open up more viewpoints through the valley," said Mr Fulton.

"This is an area that isn't as well-recognised as it should be, and we hope that this will change with better access," he said.

The Woodland Trust is to hold a public meeting on its plans for Burntollet Wood on 29 January at the RAPID offices, Brackfield Bawn, Foreglen Road, Killaloo.

"All our woodlands are community woodlands, and we want local people to have a sense of ownership of the woods.

"It's not just up to us to create what we want for the woods - we want people to have their say, especially the people who live next to it, and we will take everybody's ideas on board," he said.

16 Jan, 2009


thanks Arlene, Derry is about a 2 and a half hr drive from where i live. great what they are doing up there there.

16 Jan, 2009


Found it Arlene...fantastic wonderful work

16 Jan, 2009


A very worthwhile enterprise, Arlene. Looks like they have a good thing going... One Question: there are very few truly old forests in existence...and they are constantly threatened by developers and urban sprawl...Who will be the safeguards of the future? I hope that those developing this worthy project have given thought to 50 or 60 years down the way...when property values will be even higher than they are now...and social needs greater this protected by a charter, for instance? will the public rights be protected by law?

17 Jan, 2009


I'm not sure Lori but once I get some information from The Woodland Trust~I have just joined as a member~I will be sure to look into that~I would hope they put safeguards in place!

If I am able to go and plant a tree or two I know the area fairly well My daughter did her PHD in Watford for three years which is just down the road so to speak~there is this lovely nursery we used to visit so could be a nice weekend away!.

17 Jan, 2009

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