Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Well it has been around two months now since we had our first tree planting day in Newbridge Park and everything is looking good for our latest additions. Despite the best efforts of the un-seasonally cold weather, which has put everything back by weeks, the new trees are starting to burst into leaf and even the slow starters – like beech and oak – are showing signs of life. Back on the 17th March about 30 volunteers turned up, including families and children, to help plant over one hundred trees. Funded as part of grant kindly provided by the Kirkby Foundation, we were able to plant a range of native tree species: oak, beech, hornbeam, small-leaved lime, alder, silver birch, wild cherry, holly and yew. Alongside the tree planting, we also ran a sponsor-a-tree scheme, giving local people a chance to have a small but very real stake in the wood and hopefully a legacy for many years to come. Of the 50 trees available for sponsorship, there are still some available and if you would like to sponsor one, then please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org). It only costs £10, you get a sponsorship certificate and each tree is numbered, so you can enjoy going down to the woods to find your very own tree and watch it grow over the coming years.
And this is just the start of our Newbridge Park woodland management plan. Over future years, we plan to do a lot more conservation work in the wood, with the aim of improving it for local people and wildlife alike. You won’t see huge changes over night; it’s going to be a gradual and carefully planned process. We want to improve the wood but not in a way that massively alters the character and overall appeal of woods. A key part of our long-term plan is to improve the mix of trees in the wood, which at the moment is dominated by sycamore and ash. By getting a better blend of species you achieve two things: encourage a broader range of wildlife (increasing the wood’s biodiversity) and make the whole wood more resilient to things like climate change or pests and diseases. For example, look at ash die-back, a new disease that arrived in the UK in 2012, which can infect and kill ash trees. If this disease reaches Pickering, it could have a really big impact on Newbridge woods, where around a third (if not more) of all the trees growing there are ash. Another thing we want to do is open up the tree canopy a bit more, to let in more light (‘skylighting’). At the moment large parts of the wood are so dark that very few plants can survive on the ground. And while there is nothing wrong with ivy and dog’s mercury, by letting in more light you can encourage a lot more plant species to thrive on the woodland floor, including woodland flowers like primrose, wood anemone or foxgloves. You can also encourage shrubs and smaller trees including hazel, hawthorn, bramble and crab apple; great for woodland birds, as places to nest and sources of food.
So what else have we go planned this year? Well the intention is to plant more trees this coming autumn/winter. This will include some as part of our School’s Plant-a-Tree scheme, where we have supplied trees (again a mix of native species) to a couple of local schools, where the children are going to grown them on and then come down to the woods and plant them. Hopefully this will be a great way to get the kids engaged with nature and their local wood. Watch this space for more news on that.