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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 for reforesting.

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.

Beginning its life as an idea thought up by Bristol-based writer and activist on energy and climate change Nikki Jones, ANT now has a board of eight professional and dedicated trustees who bring invaluable experience. In August 2020 we completed our first purchase – 34 acres near Calne, Wiltshire – and we are fundraising for another 19 acres at Seend, near Melksham, to buy in early 2021.

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 ANTs 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 Avon 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.

our current goal

Avon Needs Trees is well on its way to funding the purchase of 19 acres at Seend, near Melksham. The land has fantastic hedgerows and two natural pond areas – but there is evidence of declining bird and other species in just the last few years.

Photo by Kevan Wind.

Avon Needs Trees aims to create a mix of meadow, pond, community orchard and new woodland. The good news is that many of our neighbours are already practicing regenerative land use and our purchase will help connect several similar small and local projects. This land will be publicly accessible, and as with our first purchase we plan to involve the local community – plus hundreds of volunteers – in tree planting and species monitoring.

We Need Your Help!

As of November 2020 ANT is almost half way towards its goal of raising £200,000 to cover the purchase and initial management. Please head over to our donate page to help us reach our goal, and don’t forget our new Seend and Christmas gift cards that allow you to give the gift of new, permanent forest.

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 Spye Park and 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 both Hazeland and Seend are parts, 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.

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