The Woodland Trust will host its first mass planting at its new Yonder Oak Wood near the Exe Estuary to the sound of music as hundreds of people come together to plant 13,000 trees.
The tree planting is the first step in the charity’s mission to create a new haven for wildlife, and they are inviting local people to join this mammoth task at free planting events in February.
The SongFishers, a group of troubadours who live nearby, have been inspired to adapt traditional folk songs to include the new wood and will be serenading tree planters during the plantings.
The new wood, which was named last year in a public vote, sits in a hidden valley just two miles north of Exmouth. It features fragments of woodland, that the Trust have already cleared of invasive laurel; and stately veteran oak trees, once part of hedgerows, dot the landscape like living legends. The Trust’s vision for the site includes new woods, open glades and wood pasture, that will create a rich mosaic of habitats.
Woodland Trust site manager Paul Allen, said: “Creating a new wooded landscape that will host wildlife way beyond our lifetimes and be resilient to the changing climate is no mean feat. The mass tree planting is the first step in what will be a decades-long journey to bring wildlife back to this site. Trees are a great natural solution to the climate crisis, soaking up CO2 and delivering oxygen, and it’s great to see so many people wanting to step up and join this effort.”
Over 400 students from local primary schools in Exmouth, Lympstone, Woodbury and Exeter will be getting stuck in to the planting. Lessons in school to gear them up for tree planting, kicked off in December, and now these budding tree activists are ready to head to Yonder Oak Wood and plant a new wood.
The Trust’s engagement and communications officer, Rachel Harries has been cleaning her stock of spades in preparation. She said:“Planting 13,000 trees is an epic task but we’re finding that so many people are wanting to get involved in this project right from the very beginning – there’s a real sense of community coming together about it. With nature in crisis and climate change affecting both people and wildlife, planting trees is a way we can make a difference right on our doorstep. In a very short time, we expect to see more birds and butterflies, like willow warblers and spotted flycatchers – as well as butterflies such as the dingy skipper and ringlets.
“Imagine how exciting it will be, in five or ten years’ time to come back and say, ‘I planted this wood!’”
Yonder Oak Wood is one of the charity’s first sites to shift away from the use of plastic tree shelters, as part of its pioneering work to find alternatives to protecting young trees.
The Woodland Trust acquired the 54 hectares of land in East Devon in March, as an ambitious new woodland creation project, thanks to an incredible response to a public appeal which raised £650,000. Further generous support came from Lloyds Bank, and through the Government’s Landfill Communities Fund, Biffa Award provided an amazing grant of £750,000.
Public planting days are: Saturday and Sunday – 4 & 5 February and 18 & 19 February. 10.00am-3.30pm
The SongFishers will be performing on Sunday 5 and Sunday 19 February at 10.30am.
The Woodland Trust is encouraging people to come for an hour or two or to stay for the whole day. There is no parking on site, but the charity is putting on free minibuses from Exmouth or inviting people to walk or cycle.
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