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LEX Autolease Helps Create The National Forest

Wednesday, 12th January 2011

Lex Autolease employees help plant trees at Packington woodland

Enthusiastic members of staff and management travelled from Lex Autolease’s Birmingham, Stockport and Bury offices to The National Forest in the Midlands, to plant trees and assist with woodland management tasks as part of a productive partnership with the National Forest Company.

The group gathered at Conkers Waterside in Moira, Leicestershire, for a presentation about the strategy behind The National Forest.  They then travelled to the woodland site, planting 250 oak, ash, silver birch and wild cherry trees, as part of the new Packington woodland. 

They also helped Forest neighbours by pruning and clearing brash in adjacent Normandy Wood (dedicated to Normandy veterans).  These trees were planted in 1994 and the woodland is owned by North West Leicestershire District Council.  Foresters from The National Forest and staff from North West Leicestershire District Council and BTCV (conservation volunteers) were on site to supervise.

The group gained real insight into how growing woodland benefits from being looked after and managed: individual trees thrive, the ‘canopy’ (how the crowns of the trees all grow together) is opened up and the resultant extra light encourages wildflowers and pollinating insects, and makes the woodland attractive to walk in.

Using wood chip produced as a by-product of the pruning works, the group also created an attractive woodland path that meanders through the wood, taking visitors right in amongst the  trees, and planted native flower bulbs (bluebells and wild daffodils) alongside the path, for flowering next spring. They also created an access path between the two woodlands.

The event takes this innovative partnership with The National Forest into its fourth year. Lex Autolease’s sponsorship creates two new woodlands in the heart of The National Forest, at Pick Triangle and Packington, as well as a community engagement programme. On completion over 120,000 native broadleaf trees will have been planted.

Sophie Churchill, Chief Executive of the National Forest Company, said: ‘It’s brilliant that Lex Autolease employees recognise the value of The National Forest and are helping us to achieve so much. Planting trees is great but it’s equally important to look after woodlands as they grow. Lex Autolease understand the need for sustainable management of woodlands, of the highest standard, and they are really prepared to get stuck in and help make it happen.’

Mark Chessman, Commercial Director of Lex Autolease, commented: ‘Our long-term partnership with the National Forest Company has meant we’ve been able to organise excursions to the Forest for a number of colleagues within the business over the years, and we’re now starting to see the results of our handiwork from our first visit four years ago.  It’s wonderful to see our colleagues playing such an important part of the building of our future landscape, and we will endeavour to encourage many more of our colleagues and customers to play a part in the creation of the Forest in 2011.’

The tree planters were enthusiastic!  Anthony from Birmingham said:  ‘This is such a wonderful thing to do – I want to come back and see more of the Forest and plant more trees.’ 

Sarah from Manchester works in finance, and her passion is painting.  She wanted to paint the trees but also enjoyed planting them:  ‘This is really cool, isn’t it? And it’s such a great cause.’

The National Forest spans 200 square miles of the Midlands, including parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.  Visitor attractions such as Conkers, Rosliston Forestry Centre and Snibston make it a brilliant place for a day out, not to mention over 400 new and established woodlands to explore, historic houses to visit and tea rooms to enjoy. Small and large businesses have many opportunities to get involved.