Countdown to our new woodland!

Stanley Lane site. Photo by Kevan Wind

It’s an exciting time at ANT as we are now on countdown, with 28 days left to get all the permissions in place and to ensure we have enough money in the bank to purchase Stanley Lane!

Director Dave Wood says, “Stanley Lane is a 6 hectare site located on the edge of the hamlet of Stanley, close to our first purchase, Hazeland. The site has great potential for tree planting and will make a wonderfully biodiverse habitat, whilst absorbing CO2 and helping to mitigate flooding. As ever, we will be planting native species suitable for a heating climate, and creating space for nature to thrive.”


Donate or Volunteer

Hazeland has had a trim!

Hazeland riverside meadow

We are pleased to announce that the mowing of rides, glades and paths at Hazeland has been completed! This is a really important step in maintaining the open spaces which have been built into the design of Hazeland and which are key for a healthy woodland, for biodiversity to thrive and for access.

Rides are corridors of open space at the edge of woodland that encourage a range of different species to move in – the edges of woodland are where biodiversity is often at it’s richest. These spaces are also essential in enabling our staff, volunteers, and visitors to move around, for the management and enjoyment of the site.

Glades are open spaces within planted areas which let light and air in and which attract a variety of butterflies and other species.

It is important that open areas are cut once or twice a year, to strip nutrients that have built up from years of agricultural use from the soil. Over time, cutting will reduce the more vigorous grasses, leaving more room for other species such as flowering plants to establish along the rides. These in turn provide nectar for bees and other pollinating insects.  

The rides at Hazeland amount to a lengthy 2km, across sometimes difficult terrain, and this presented quite a challenge for the team. After much deliberation, they opted for mechanised grass cutting. Although cutting with scythes was considered, this was clearly too big a site for this traditional but time-consuming method. Having moved a fence and achieved the first hurdle of getting the machinery on site, they then had to work carefully to make sure nothing was damaged on the fragile site, which was still waterlogged in places.

We are thrilled to have secured the knowledge we need to complete this project, which is a really significant step in ensuring the careful management of our Hazeland site for access and biodiversity.

Forest Schools at Hazeland

During the Summer, Avon Needs Trees and experienced Forest School Leaders from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust offered FREE forest school sessions with a range of outdoor games, crafts and nature based activities over five Tuesdays in the summer holidays at our beautiful 34 acre site at Hazeland near Calne. Hazeland includes riverside meadow, ancient woodland and hillside meadows with views across the surrounding area and provided the perfect setting for a fun filled day with plenty to write home about. Below is a snippet of feedback from some of our attendees!

Feedback from the Forest Schools

(we) had the most amazing day at the forest school session today, the girls loved
the fire making, hot chocolate, exploring the wildlife and trying their best to catch a
butterfly. The guides were fabulous, very informative/knowledgeable and was always
keen to answer the children’s questions. The session ran smoothly and was
extremely organised, overall I was very impressed and wouldn’t hesitate to book
again. Lots of memories made’


‘Make the day longer! We loved it!’


‘This is heaven… just my children and me in nature making things together’


‘This is way better than I thought it would be!’
(9 year old participant)

Could THIS be our next new woodland

The ANT team are excited to share some news: we are close to purchasing our next piece of land to plant a new permanent forest!

It is a wonderful 6 hectare site with plenty of potential for tree planting. Located in Stanley, not far from Hazeland, our first purchase, it will make a wonderfully biodiverse habitat whilst sucking up that all important CO2. As ever we will be planting native species with an eye on our future climate and creating space for nature to thrive. We’ve also looked at how planting at Stanley will alleviate flooding.

With the planned expansion of Chippenham and thousands of new houses nearby a new forest is needed here more than ever before.

Ecological surveys have been conducted and we are now working with partners to be in a position to get the trees into the ground this autumn. The land is currently pasture and will be another small but vital step to increasing our national tree cover to fight climate change and halt biodiversity loss.

Our first purchase Hazeland was only made possible by the dedication and commitment of donors and volunteers who share our passion for trees and nature. We will be hoping to attract the same level of support on this purchase to enable its ongoing maintenance and management. Once confirmed we will be opening up registration for tree planting and care and hope to see you on the land!

Introducing our new Director

ANT is extremely pleased to announce the arrival of our new Director, Dave Wood. Dave brings strong management, fundraising and media skills and is a passionate environmentalist. He is committed to improving our catchment area in terms of carbon lock-up, biodiversity, natural flood management and public, green space. We look forward to his leadership of ANT towards more land acquisition and new, permanent woodland.

Tree Planting, Carbon and Climate – Free Online Talk hosted by ANT and Friends of the Marden Valley

Tommaso Jucker of Bristol University and Nikki Jones of ANT discuss tree planting in the context of carbon capture, biodiversity and climate.

Have you heard about the benefits of tree planting for biodiversity and climate, but want to understand more? Would you like to hear about the issues from people working on practical solutions? Please join us to learn more about the fascinating interactions between trees and the soil, wildlife and atmosphere around them.

Tommaso Jucker is the NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, leading a research group working on the ecology and conservation of the world’s forests. He has brought his research on carbon capture to ANT’s Hazeland project in Wiltshire and will be talking about “Getting the most out of tree planting for biodiversity and climate”.

Nikki Jones is Chair of Avon Needs Trees, working to create new permanent woodland across the Bristol-Avon Catchment area. She will be talking about developments with the tree planting, tree management and biodiversity goals at Hazeland, as well as giving an update on where next for Avon Needs Trees.

The talks will be hosted by Friends of the Marden Valley with chair Ian Thorn. There will be an opportunity for a Q&A session with the speakers.

This is a free, online event organised by Friends of the Marden Valley and Avon Needs Trees. Tickets are available through Eventbrite and absolutely all are welcome.

To find out more about Friends of the Marden Valley please visit their Facebook page.

Photo of tree planting at the Hazeland project, 2021.

10,000 Trees Planted at Hazeland!

It’s taken three months of hard work, using small groups of local volunteers, but finally all trees and shrubs are in the ground at Hazeland. Many thanks to our trustees and volunteers who have braved a lot of mud, and to the Woodland Trust, who donated almost all our trees, supplemented by an extra 400 from Protect Earth.

Photo by Philip Smith

Of course, now we need to protect the trees from competitive grass that will take nutrients and water from around the tree bases, and from possible spring drought. We have decided not to use glyphosate, so we’re experimenting with various mulching options – wood chip, sheep wool and hessian. We’d like to combine with newspaper in some areas, so if you receive a paper copy of your favourite daily and can build up a supply for us, we’d be pleased to hear from you. Unfortunately, magazines and office paper can’t be used. Please contact ANT via contact@avonneedstrees.org.uk if you can help. Many thanks.

Mulching around university research trees – photo by Alister Wynn

In the area set aside for University of Bristol research, the team is experimenting to see whether using leaf litter from the ancient woodland as mulch, plus an inoculation of ancient woodland soil, will enhance tree growth.

Dormouse Boxes Installed at Hazeland

Ecologist Rosie Jackson and trustee John Chew – photo by Kevan Wind

There’s only one way to find out for sure whether we have dormice at Hazeland, and that’s to install homes and monitor them. The Men’s Shed at Bradford on Avon made six dormice boxes for us last year and these have now been Installed in the ancient woodland by ecologist Rosie Jackson with the help of funder/supporter Anna Stevens of James Ellis Stevens Stationery.

From left: Rosie Jackson, Anna Stevens, trustee John Chew and trustee Cathy Bedford
– photo by Kevan Wind

The boxes will be checked monthly throughout the summer. However, after years of neglect, the ancient woodland at Hazeland has too much canopy and a poor understory and it’s likely that this protected, increasingly rare species is not there. It may take a year or two to confirm this, while in the meantime we improve food sources and habitat, and build woodland connectivity with our neighbours. We may then look at a reintroduction programme if ‘natural’ improvements don’t tempt them back. Here’s a useful factsheet on dormice from the Woodland Trust.

Mrs Noah Fights Back – Online Production Supporting ANT

ANT is pleased to be supporting Untamed Productions in their production of Mrs Noah Fights Back, an environmentally reimagined Noah’s Ark with a feminist twist. The play presents a powerful message about the state of the world we live in and was originally performed as a piece of street theatre in London. Performances are on Friday 16th, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th April and ten percent of all ticket sales will come to Avon Needs Trees.

Update on Purchase of Land at Seend

It is with great disappointment that we have decided not to proceed with buying the 19 acres at Seend, near Melksham. This is because of the ‘jackpot’ of magnetic anomalies on site that may indicate Roman or Medieval buried heritage. Without digging trenches all over the site – which we can’t do till we own the land – we won’t know to what extent our planting will be restricted. In the end, this is too great a risk for the charity.

The good news is that we are actively looking for substitute land and we are discussing one possible site that appears to tick all our boxes – a site where we can plant trees without restrictions, greatly improve existing habitat for birds and other species, and add to natural flood management. We will keep you informed, but please do send us information regarding land for sale in your area. ANT seeks to ‘add value’ by owning the land, so existing woodland is only of interest if it is under threat.

Many thanks for your help – and to the many funders who are allowing us to use money donated to Seend for our next purchase, wherever it is. If you have donated specifically to the Seend land (possibly through our Crowdfunder campaign or through a gift card) and would like your money returned, please do get in contact with our Chair, Nikki, at nikki.jones@avonneedstrees.org.uk