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Small is beautiful - and free - create small woodlands in The National Forest

Tuesday, 6th January 2009

The National Forest Company can help landowners create their own small woodland, their own bit of The National Forest, for free!

Small parcels of land, within the 200 square miles of The National Forest, are perfect for the National Forest One Acre Woodland Scheme or the 500 – 2,000 trees scheme.

The Crown Estate, working closely with its tenants on the Gopsall Estate, south of Ibstock, took up both these schemes last year and the young trees, planted with the aid of National Forest Company (NFC) funding, are flourishing and attracting a wide variety of wildlife. 

Oak, ash and birch trees, and shrubs such as crab-apple, spindle and guelder rose, were planted on two of the Estate’s tenanted farms to create a number of shelter belts and spinneys. The new planting has both extended and linked the existing woodland to create an improved habitat for pheasants and other wild birds.  Mr Brown of Odstone Barn Farm said:  "It is good to see the Forest taking shape. Many of the hedgerow trees and small woods have been lost over the years and it is great to see something being put back." 

Alan Laidlaw, Head of Customer Management at The Crown Estate, said: “We were delighted to work with the NFC at Gopsall and to help them achieve their goals in the area.  The three way project with The Crown Estate, NFC and our tenants is a prime example of joint working benefiting the environment and local wildlife for the long term.”

He continued: “On another scheme the NFC supplied a free pack of trees to plant around Tuckers Holt Fishing Lake. We are now looking at other opportunities on adjoining parcels of land, which will further enhance the Estate environment for the benefit of all.”

David Storer of Tuckers Holt Fishing Club said: "We rent the lake from the Gopsall Estate and have developed a thriving club.  The lake has a pleasant aspect but is rather exposed and we dearly wanted to plant trees and shrubs around the lake to provide some shelter and add landscape value.  Fortunately the NFC has a free tree scheme that provides enough trees and shrubs to plant one acre of woodland - just what we needed!" 

A year on and the trees are well established, producing berries in their first year – which brings added benefits. Mr Brown said: "It’s amazing how quickly the wildlife responds if the environment is right. Pheasants are already finding the berries and it won’t be long before the trees are big enough for them to roost in!” 

Simon Greenhouse from the NFC said: "We have a range of free tree scheme initiatives available to landowners in The National Forest that can help to create small copses, amenity woods, screens and shelter belts.  It suited the Gopsall Estate to use our One Acre Woodland Scheme and the 500 – 2,000 trees scheme, and we are happy to discuss the options available with others who might be interested in planting trees in the Forest.

"Apart from estates such as Gopsall, the NFC works with farms, schools, parish councils, golf clubs, mineral companies and other individuals and organisations who own land and are interested in planting trees.  The benefits for the land and those who use the land are many, and it is a fantastic opportunity to get involved and to help create The National Forest."