It takes all sorts to make a forest, and when you have ambitious plans to plant 12 to 13 million trees, a ‘growing’ community of like-minded enthusiasts who want to be involved springs up even quicker than the new woodland!

Without the fantastic efforts of our wide range of supporters to supplement our existing small, but dedicated, team of full-timers, planting the 1.6 million or so trees that already make up today’s Heart of England Forest would have been a very long drawn out job. Here we salute their wonderful work…

Helpers close to our heart

Volunteers are important to the creation of the Forest, and their burgeoning numbers help us keep our plans on track. Week in, week out, we welcome dozens of conscientious folk who give up their valuable free time to tend the tree nursery, keep the footpaths clear, plant trees and assist with general maintenance tasks.

Our corporate volunteers, too, are highly valued and, in turn, enjoy their participation with the charity, seeing it as a valuable teambuilding exercise. Despite a planned planting day being curtailed earlier in the season by Storm Doris, those that battled the elements still planted over 4,000 trees. A re-arranged date saw over 80 volunteers, mainly from Vauxhall and Jaguar Land Rover, add a further 5,000 trees! We thank them all.

In addition, school and scout groups from across the district, and sometimes further afield, allow children of all ages to not only get ‘hands on’ with tree planting, but also to learn about the essential value that those very trees will offer to both their generation and those beyond – not only in terms of reducing carbon dioxide levels but also providing a safe habitat for many species of flora and fauna.

Last but by no means least, there are the contractors. During planting season, up to 15 experts are drafted in from the local area to help us achieve our targets. Throughout the rest of the year there will usually be three or four regular contractors who will join our team on a weekly basis to help with the multitude of tasks, from tree surgery to fencing through to general maintenance. Their industry should not be underestimated and is much appreciated.

AND HERE’S WHAT IT TAKES……

By the end of this planting season over 6,000 hours will have been spent planting more than 185,000 trees.

We estimate that more than 3,000 cups of tea and coffee will have been consumed, while our workers will have worn out 200 pairs of gloves.

Of the trees planted, 55,000 are English oak and 13,000 hazel, the latter to be coppiced in the future.

The rest comprise a mixture of other native British species, including birch, alder, field maple, sessile oak and small-leaved lime.

The slow-growing trees, such as the oak, will have been safeguarded by more than 100,000 protective tubes to defend them from deer and field voles.

More than 85,000 spirals will have been placed over the faster growing trees and shrubs, such as birch and alder.

This woodland creation will be locking up over 37,500 tonnes of carbon over the next 100 years.

Combine these statistics with the countless inches of rain and the fierce storms (including, of course, the one and only Doris!) endured by our hardy helpers and it all adds up to a gargantuan effort by all – the Heart of England Forest team extend their sincere gratitude. Don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed @The_HOEF to see how we are progressing.

Photograph: Charlotte Doran Davies