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Many hands make light work at the first BIG Eden Tree Plant

Volunteers at the BIG Eden Tree Planting (photo Stuart Walker)

The BIG Eden Tree Plant, Eden Rivers Trust’s ambitious project to plant 10,000 trees, got off to a great start as the Trust’s Volunteer Coordinator, Susie Grainger, mustered over 40 enthusiastic volunteers at Dockray on Friday 23 November.

Susie and her regular Eden Rivers Trust volunteers were joined by volunteers from the Highways Agency and students from Newton Rigg College. Their mission for the day? To plant 5,000 trees before dusk. Their aim for the future? To slow the flow of water running off the steep fell and reduce the risk of flooding in the Ullswater valley.

Coinciding with the National Tree Week, the UK’s largest annual tree celebration, the BIG Eden tree plant will see new woodlands of mixed native species established on sites near Dockray (Ullswater) and Thrimby near Shap. The new woodlands will, over time, create a rich bio-diverse habitat that will contribute towards mitigating the effects of flooding and sediment deposition downstream, whilst improving water quality upstream.

Two students from Newton Rigg Colleague join in the BIG Eden Tree Planting (Stuart Walker)

As they mature, the new woodlands will have a number of benefits: when the trees are in full leaf, the amount of rainfall reaching the ground will be reduced by as much as 45%*; the roots will take in more water and help to prevent soil erosion and nutrient loss from the fields into the river, improving water quality; the flow of water into the river will be slowed down by increasing the ‘roughness’ of the land surface and they also create habitat for wildlife and shelter for livestock.

The BIG Eden Tree Plant has been made possible thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a Woodland Creation Grant that the landowner had secured with assistance from Eden Rivers Trust. This is a capital grant for farmers and land managers for the establishment of new woodlands that meet national and regional priorities – in this case to improve biodiversity, water quality and flood management.

Susie Grainger said: “Grants are essential, but to establish a woodland of this size also takes hundreds of people hours. It just wouldn’t be possible without our volunteers. Their generosity and dedication will result in a complete transformation of this ground by dusk. In ten years, people will look up from the valley and see a maturing woodland of mixed native trees on this fell. Their work today will have a lasting legacy.”

Volunteer Phil Nicholson from Highways England said:  “I live in Carlisle and saw the devastation caused by recent flooding first hand, so when the opportunity came along to do this (we get three volunteer days from work) I was happy to volunteer.”

Eden Rivers Trust is working with The Woodland Trust, Natural England, Lowther Forestry and the Forestry Commission to make the BIG Eden tree plant happen.

The next BIG Eden Tree Planting sessions: 1st & 8th December, Thrimby near Little Strickland.

Volunteers can sign up via the Eden Rivers Trust Facebook page or their website www.edenriverstrust.org.uk

For more information on The BIG Eden Tree Plant and other volunteering opportunities with Eden Rivers Trust, call 01768 866788 or email [email protected]

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