Christmas thank you from Toby Bancroft, Regional Director – Central England
As we hurtle towards the end of the year, it’s worth reflecting – what a year! Trees and woods have never been more recognised for the value they bring. In a year when the climate crisis is so front and centre in the news, trees, and the need for more of them has never been greater. Not only for the role they play in terms of carbon storage, but in addition, all the other benefits they bring to wildlife, and our own wellbeing. We also saw a report earlier this year providing an update on the state of the UK’s nature, stressing the urgency for action.
On a positive note, volunteering has grown in Central England and currently there are over 710 different tasked roles being carried out, which is wonderful! We received some fantastic news that the Bramingham Wood volunteers won the Willow Award at the Volunteer of the Year Awards for their contribution to the estate. Bramingham Wood, close to Luton is an amazing piece of ancient woodland with some real pressures given its urban location, but it looks terrific and well cared for – a credit to the volunteer group. A number of volunteers based in Central England were nominated for awards, which demonstrates the breadth and depth of volunteering across the region and all brilliant examples of the value volunteering brings to the Trust.
We’ve been doing our bit to put trees in the ground as well. Volunteers were critical to a successful planting event at Tring at the end of November, planting over 5000 trees in one day which is a great result! Tring also hosted one of our largest events this year, the Festival of Light and despite threats of rain all evening 2000 people attended. My thanks to the volunteers who helped make this happen, it would not be the event it is without you. Look out for more volunteering roles at Tring in the new year.
We’ve had some exciting new acquisitions on the estate, this year we completed the purchase of 81Ha in two extensions to our Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee site in the National Forest, Leicestershire. Planting starts in February/March 2020, do look out for tree planting opportunities, or just come and visit, it’s a great site. Another acquisition to the south of the region will soon be announced – all really exciting!
Our work off the estate has also taken a step forward this year. We are focusing our efforts on two priority landscapes to make a real difference. The Eastern Claylands treescapes project, covering Suffolk and Essex is now well into implementation. Working with partners and landowners we are planting trees, both as part of new woodland, but also outside woodlands, as field and hedge trees. This will help to combat the impacts of tree disease, within a landscape that is already fragmented and under pressure from land use. We are also moving forward with our planning within the Sherwood Forest landscape area, where the need for protection and management of existing veteran and ancient trees and woodpasture, as well as planning for new ancient trees across this historic, and important landscape is vital for its future. Look out for volunteering opportunities within both of these projects over the next year.
I hope that you’ve had a great year and are enjoying volunteering with us – at a time when what we do has never been more important. Thank you for all of your hard work, the Woodland Trust could not achieve all that it does without your dedication, enthusiasm and support and for that we are extremely grateful! We are one team working together to achieve the Woodland Trust aim – A UK rich in native woods and trees, for people and wildlife.
Here’s to a great Christmas break, hope you find time to get out into the woods and thank you again for all that you have done in 2019.
Toby Bancroft – Regional Director Central England
Feature Image: Colin Varndell – Beech tree in Nursery Wood, Tring Park