They’re beautiful, good for wildlife, help prevent flooding and can improve the quality of water in our streams and rivers – and children from Bothel School are leading the way by planting 450 more.
We’re talking trees, of course. And youngsters from St Michael’s CE School, Bothel, have just finished creating Cumbria’s newest woodland in their school grounds.
The new trees are the latest of over 5,500 trees planted across north and west Cumbria since December with help from a £435,000 fund from water company United Utilities.
The idea is to boost the amount of native, broad-leaved woodland along the route of the company’s new West Cumbria Water Supply Scheme. When finished, United Utilities’ scheme will boost local water supplies while protecting the environment.
The Cumbria Tree Fund has so far pledged support for 24 projects in Allerdale, Copeland and the Lake District by the end of its first planting season in March. And there’s still two years to go.
Cumbria Woodlands, who devised and run the fund on United Utilities behalf, are urging landowners and community groups to get stuck in and send in applications for future years.
Cumbria Woodlands forester Daniel Parsons said the new wood at St Michaels’ school was the fifth such project so far. Others tend to be much larger, such as 3.5 hectares of new young oaks to extend a beautiful established oak woodland on Latrigg, visible from the A66 near Keswick.
Head of the 52-pupil St Michael’s CE School, Andy May, said its new woodland and hedging was part of the long term development of the school’s large grounds.
He said: “We are very, very lucky to have big grounds with an amazing view. We have created animal habitats, a pond wetland area and garden with the local gardening club. The children have been involved and it’s a great educational experience for them to help plant and watch the trees grow.
“We started planting a hedge around the school boundary several years ago but parts have been eaten by rabbits, so some of the new trees will be hawthorn and blackthorn to replace it. The fund is great because, as well as money for the trees, there will be tubes and stakes so there’s a lot more chance it will be successful in the long term and we can keep the rabbits away,” added Andy May.
United Utilities also funds Cumbria Woodlands’ time and expertise to help applicants draw up and deliver schemes.
John Hilton, United Utilities West Cumbria Project Director, said the tree fund was part of the company’s £1m legacy fund, which also includes grants of up to £30,000 for community organisations.
“The idea behind the grants is to leave a long-term legacy which will keep improving the lives and environment of west Cumbrians long after construction finishes. By the time we’re finished we hope to have supported the planting of around 113,000 new trees, including 23,000 in Ennerdale alone.”
To find out more about the Cumbria Tree Fund visit cumbriawoodlands.co.uk