WARWICKSHIRE is set to get a lot greener as the county’s new recently tree nursery plants its first 20,000 acorns.
Warwickshire County Council has ambitious tree planting plans for that will see a tree for every resident planted across the county over the next eight years.
This has been strategically planned to restore parts of forests and wooded areas that have been long lost to time, such as the ancient Forest of Arden, which once covered most of the county and beyond into Staffordshire and Worcestershire.
The UK market for trees is rapidly expanding with many local authorities and businesses making commitments to plant trees as part of their climate change response plans and efforts to make their businesses carbon neutral.
Over the coming years there is likely to be higher demand for trees to be planted around the UK. Most trees are currently imported from Europe where there are well-established nurseries that grow large numbers of trees from seed.
But there are increasing concerns about rising importation costs and the transfer of disease, as well as a desire to reduce the carbon footprint from transport – prompting people to look closer to home to the UK tree nursery market.
WCC’s tree planting plans will play a significant role in contributing to the council’s commitment to address the global climate change emergency, restore woodland areas in the county while also improving biodiversity by creating extensive new habitats for wildlife.
The tree nursery, which has been established on a WCC-owned smallholding, includes polytunnels with automatic watering systems to save water, a storage area for tree stock as well as equipment.
And compost for the site comes from the WCC forestry team maintenance waste, while green waste from the authority’s waste and environment team is being composted for use as an alternative to peat.
If all the newly planted acorns reached maturity as oak trees they would have the capacity to capture over 20,000 tonnes of CO2 over their lifetimes (around 500 tonnes per year).
In addition to helping WCC to meet its tree-planting aspirations, the tree nursery will also provide an income stream with surplus whips and saplings being sold to other organisations and businesses in the county.
WCC environment spokeswoman Coun Heather Timms said: “It’s great news for the whole of Warwickshire that our nursery has got off to such a great start getting so many acorns in the ground.
“The global reduction of woods and forests and associated habitat and biodiversity loss is one of the greatest damages that we have done to our planet and its ecosystems. Renewed tree planting across the world will be integral our response to the mounting climate crisis, which is why we committed resources to establishing our tree nursery.
“The Woodlands Trust have stated that to meet the UK’s carbon net-zero target, it will need to plant at least 1.44 million hectares of new forestry across the country. In Warwickshire, we are fully committed to playing our part in this huge tree planting challenge and this will be underpinned by our own tree nursery giving the county access to trees with the lowest possible carbon footprint and at market competitive prices.”
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk to fnd out more about the Warwickshire tree nursery and WCC’s climate commitments.
Why not plant a tree yourself
AS the 2022/23 tree planting season gets underway, Warwickshire County Council shares its top tips for anyone wanting to plant a tree in the county.
The UK tree planting season runs between the colder months of November and March, when trees are naturally dormant and there is less chance of them being damaged during the planting process. Trees planted during this period will tend to have the best chance of survival to maturity.
While WCC has its own targets for tree planting, it is also inviting residents, businesses, community and voluntary groups to embark on their own tree planting during the current season. To make things a bit easier, WCC Forestry and Ecology Teams have shared some of their top tips for anyone wanting to plant a tree:
* Think carefully about the type of planting you are going to do. There are a range of options from the cheapest (but slowest) of planting from seed, to planting saplings and whips all the way up to planting trees that are closer to maturity.
* Always try to pick trees that are native to the UK. This will give you the best chance at success.
Trees to think about are oak, elm and ash or fruit trees like apple, pear or cherry. The Woodlands Trust offer a useful guide (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/advice/choose/)
* Plant trees at least two meters apart. If you are planting a tree in your own garden, ensure it is far enough away from your property that root systems, when fully grown, will not interfere with the foundations.
* Always prepare your planting site. This means that if your planting area is overgrown, cut the grass short and weed. This will make planting easier and reduce competition for water, helping your saplings to thrive. The Woodlands Trust also offer a guide about different methods of planting (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/advice/how-to-plant/)
* Trees are like pets, they need ongoing care. Although native trees are resilient and can be hardy, you can’t just plant one and leave it, hoping for the best. For at least the first three years your newly planted tree is going to need ongoing care to ensure that is survives and, later, thrives and that your planting efforts are not wasted. Again, The Woodlands Trust offer a guide to ongoing tree care (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/advice/care/)
People who do rise to the challenge of planting a tree in the 2022/23 season are being encouraged to log it on the West Midlands Virtual Forest platform to contribute to the creation of a picture of new trees and woodland across the region.
The West Midlands Combined Authority’s (WMCA) Virtual Forest platform is an online mapping tool that enables anyone who has planted a tree to register it on the Virtual Forest and it is hoped that all new tree planting across Warwickshire, and the wider region, will be included.
It is part of the WMCA’s long-term commitment to the environment, #WM2041, which is the regional plan to be carbon neutral by 2041 and to restore and enhance the natural environment.
Visit www.wmvirtualforest.co.uk to register your tree planting on the Virtual Forest platform.