Sep 26 2019

Heartwood gathering and arboretum trip

Central region volunteers gathered for a network event at Heartwood Forest recently. This was the fourth event for volunteers that was organised in the central region and the aims were to share Woodland Trust news and updates, learn about Woodland Trust campaigns work, find out about the work of the Heartwood volunteers and thank volunteers for giving their time and energy to supporting the Woodland Trust. Of those who attended, a number of volunteer roles were represented, including woodland working group members, events volunteers, mass engagement volunteers, volunteer speakers, guided walk leaders and wildlife monitors just to name a few.



Some volunteers who attended carry out one volunteering role for the Woodland Trust, some have signed up to multiple volunteer roles, all very much valued and everyone’s contribution to the Woodland Trust cause recognised and enormously appreciated!


Sarah Cooley and Naomi Tilley from the Woodland Trusts campaigns team came up with a really novel way to introduce the volunteers attending to the Woodland Trusts campaigns work. A ‘pass the parcel’ with a twist, every layer included a question about campaigns which the group were invited to answer, and of course a special prize! Sarah Shorley from the same team provided an informative talk about the Woodland Trusts Tree charter project, Sarah talking through the origins of the project, the 10 principles of the charter and how people can get involved by signing the charter and joining charter branches.


It was wonderful to hear from some of the Heartwood volunteers about the many activities that are carried out on site. Linda McArdell, Sandy Culiptt and Pete Cutforth talked about the woodland working group and the practical conservation work that it had carried out, the valuable images taken by the team of photographers, the contributions on site by the hedgelaying team and the many events that the Heartwood volunteers have participated in. The number of hours contributed by this group of volunteers is staggering! Not to mention the key role the group played in planting many of the 600,000 trees at Heartwood!


In the afternoon the group were treated to a guided walk around the Heartwood arboretum, led by Brian, Linda and other Heartwood volunteers. Tucked away a short distance from the main Heartwood car park, the arboretum is a real treasure. The idea came about in 2015 when a group of Heartwood volunteers worked with the Woodland Trust to come up with a plan to plant all sixty of the UK’s native trees and shrubs in one area.  Covering 11ha, the layout of the arboretum is such that visitors are taken on a journey to discover how the species were used throughout history, to present day and beyond. The species are arranged into sections, and areas are: ornamental trees and shrubs (e.g. wayfaring tree, broom), willows (e.g. almond willow, osier), fruits of the forest (e.g. juniper,  crab apple) , fiddles and sticks (e.g. small-leaved lime, spindle), furniture and fittings (e.g. beech, Wych elm) and heartwood giants (e.g. sessile oak, hornbeam).


Not only was Brian extremely knowledgeable about tree species, including identification, lifecycles and physiology, but also made reference to links to history and culture. Brian also shared with us his experiences of sourcing certain species, for example, he asked Kew Gardens to grow some Plymouth pear saplings from seeds obtained from the Millennium Seedbank. Other highlights included the strawberry tree, found occurring naturally in southern Ireland and in some parts of southern England, the sea buckthorn and the wild service tree.



Left to right – Strawberry tree, Plymouth pear, Robin’s pincushion


In addition we were treated to an aerial display from a buzzard, red kite and sparrow hawk.


Feedback from the day was very good!


Thank you to everyone who attended and to volunteers and staff who contributed to the day, whether it was to give a presentation, lead a guided walk, or helped with the many small jobs which ensured the day ran smoothly!


Amanda Brookes – Volunteer Development Officer: Central

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