Avon Needs Trees is buying land to plant and rewild, creating new, permanent woodland throughout the Bristol-Avon catchment area

Avon Needs Trees is a registered charity (No. 1184386) based in Bristol that is buying land in the Bristol-Avon Catchment Area to reforest and rewild.

Planting trees will sequester carbon from the air, enhance biodiversity and provide natural flood management, as well as water and air quality improvement, and more public amenity space.

ANT successfully registered with the Charity Commission in July 2019 and now has a board of professional and dedicated trustees who bring invaluable experience. In August 2020 ANT completed its first purchase – 34 acres near Calne, Wiltshire – and is now searching for a second piece of land.

We are supported by The Environment Agency, The Woodland Trust, The Bristol-Avon Rivers Trust, the local Wildlife Trust and the local Friends of the Earth groups, among others.

Our Chair Nikki Jones gives a 5 minute introduction to ANT to members of Bristol Inclusive Design & Development in December 2019.

Why Reforest?

Almost all of Avon’s woodland has disappeared over the last few centuries. This is disastrous for many reasons but perhaps most pressingly because trees are essential for tackling climate change. Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and protect the valuable soil beneath. By growing thousands of new trees we can take a significant step in the battle against a climate disaster.

Reforesting the catchment has multiple other benefits. It will provide natural flood management which is much more cost-effective than engineered flood defences. All of the towns and cities in the area, including Chippenham, Bath, Bradford-on-Avon and Bristol are greatly at risk of flooding, particularly as climate change advances.

Careful planting will also help enhance biodiversity and protect our water quality by reducing nitrogen runoff. In addition, land acquired will have open access to the public, providing valuable public space.

We believe buying the land is a much better way to get things done. Asking landowners to voluntarily make these changes does not provide long term, guaranteed results.

Help needed looking for next land purchase

Having recently had to pull out of our purchase of 19 acres at Seend, near Melksham, because of the potential archaeology there, Avon Needs Trees is on the look out for alternative pieces of land to buy and reforest. In particular, we are looking for low grade land that would help us fulfill our charitable objectives of carbon lock-up, improved biodiversity and natural flood management.

Photo of the land at Seend by Kevan Wind.

We’re looking to buy land where we can really add value and we can only consider purchasing existing woodland if the trees are under threat. If you know of land within the Bristol-Avon catchment area that is currently for sale and meets these criteria, please get in touch via contact@avonneedstrees.org.uk.

First Purchase

After nine months of hard fundraising, including a transformative contribution from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we made our first land purchase – 34 beautiful acres at Hazeland between Chippenham and Calne – in August 2020.

Hazeland is a fragment of the ancient forest of Pewsham and crucially the land is close to other remaining fragments at Spye Park and on the Bowood Estate. Spye Park is an important site for breeding woodland birds such as the buzzard, redstart, nightingale and tree pipet. Buying Hazeland has given us the opportunity to offer new and improved habitat to these endangered birds – as well as to several species of protected bat and woodland butterfly.

Planting more trees in the River Avon high catchment area, of which Hazeland is a part, will help stop excess water entering our river system. Such natural flood management will not only help protect nearby towns from flooding, but also cities and towns further downstream. It’s the most effective place to plant.

For even more info about Hazeland please visit our page on it.

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