West Berkshire Lockdown Woods give hope for the future.
Newbury Friends of the Earth are planning to plant local Lockdown Woods to commemorate the hugely difficult period of disruption and sacrifice during the coronavirus pandemic, where people can dedicate a tree to someone special to them, maybe a key worker, someone who has been seriously affected by this pandemic, or maybe died from Covid19.
On the positive side, lockdown has resulted in many people spending more time gardening, including parents needing to occupy their children. So the appeal for sapling planting (see below) has been very popular.
This winter over 1,100 young native deciduous trees donated by the Woodland Trust need to be planted as they are small ‘whips’ that will not otherwise survive. Volunteers are required on the dates for each wood below and will be organised into small groups to comply with social distancing measures.
It has been decided to postpone the major planting of saplings raised by local residents as these will happily remain in their pots until next year when hopefully a more relaxed group planting event can be organised.
Lockdown Wood Sites
The largest site, about two acres, is Westbrook Down, adjacent to Hungerford Marsh on the south side of the Kennet and Avon canal. It is being developed as community woodland by the Town and Manor of Hungerford in collaboration with Hungerford Environmental Action Team, St Lawrence’s Church and the Lockdown Woods project.
Goldwell Park, Newbury
The aim is to plant around three hundred young trees at the western side of Goldwell Park at the end of Northcroft Lane.
Wash Common, Newbury
Newbury Friends of the Earth will be linking up with the Growing Newbury Green group, planting twelve fruit trees to extend their existing Community Orchard in Barn Crescent, Wash Common and a further 70 native woodland trees as part of the transformation of this field into another Lockdown Wood. Barn Crescent is Newbury Town Council land.
Planting dates: Sat 9 Jan & Sun 10 Jan TBC
Newbury Friends of the Earth
Newbury Friends of the Earth are very grateful to Newbury Town Council, Greenham Parish council and other groups for generous financial support which is enabling this project to go ahead as planned this year.
Chair of Newbury Friends of the Earth, Adrian Foster-Fletcher says “It is imperative that over the next 25 years we double tree cover in the district to help biodiversity and fight climate change. West Berkshire Council have allocated part of Goldwell Park so that we can plant a wood to last in perpetuity and use it as a place to remember loved ones lost to this devastating virus in 2020. We hope this is the first phase of collaboration of the council with local environmental groups to dramatically increase tree planting and natural regeneration of wild areas, vital to a healthy future for us all.”
Dr Susan Millington, a Newbury-based environmentalist and lead for the Lockdown Woods project says “Everyone I’ve spoken to about this project thinks it is a great idea – to combine the environmental benefits of new woodlands with living memorials to the difficult times we have been through during the lockdown period, so that local people can have somewhere beautiful to relax while coming to terms with the losses they have experienced due to this pandemic. And their children will develop a personal relationship with trees they have planted in memory of loved ones, which we hope will transform into a lifelong love of nature. We would love more local residents to join us, growing, planting and tending our young trees for many years to come. Visit our Lockdown Wood Facebook group and website newburyfoe.co.uk.”
How to contribute a sapling
All you have to do is:
- find baby tree seedlings growing in your garden or alltoment
- pot them up – see video instructions here
- label them if you can (if you need help try using The Woodland Trust’s tree ID app )
- make sure to keep them watered
- register them on the Newbury Friends of the Earth website here
- Saplings need to be at least 0.5m tall before they are sturdy enough to survive in a wood.
Some of the seedlings found by children during 2020 lockdown may take up to five years to grow big enough to be planted in the Lockdown Wood. This will help to maintain community interest in the planting and care of woodlands and hopefully will foster a life-long love of trees in today’s youngsters.