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

Dave Goulson speaking for Avon Needs Trees, 20th May

We are really pleased to announce that Sussex University Professor of Biology and author, Dave Goulson (A Sting in the Tail, A Buzz in the Meadow, among many other titles) will be giving an online talk for Avon Needs Trees on May 20th. Tickets are available through Eventbrite and Facebook.

The talk is entitled ‘Gardening for Bumblebees’ and will look at what we can all do to help our 270 species of bees. As many of us are aware, they are essential to our ecosystem but most are suffering dramatic declines in numbers.  If you have not come across David’s books before, they are highly commended – really informative, and written for the ordinary citizen and gardener. This will be a really entertaining – as well as useful – evening and we hope that you will come and support Avon Needs Trees. Many thanks. 

Free Online Talk: Are We Losing the Opportunity for a Green Recovery?

Nikki Jones, Chair of Avon Needs Trees and writer/researcher on energy issues, will be giving an overview of what has changed under Covid and what still needs to happen, on Monday 15th of February.

Our economies will come out of Covid radically altered. The fossil fuel and finance industries are moving towards decarbonisation goals faster than most of us know. New technology is being funded and some old industries are collapsing. But are these developments taking us in the right direction and are they enough?

Tickets are free through Eventbrite or Facebook, but donations to Avon Needs Trees are requested. There will be plenty of opportunity for Q&A.

All of our upcoming events can be seen on our new Events page.

Running Challenges Supporting Our Purchase of Land at Seend

Seend resident Jo McManus is definitely doing all she can to help us raise the funds we need to buy the 19 acres at Seend. On the 27th February, Jo will be running ten kilometres round local villages – dressed as a tree! We’re told the costume will be spectacular and if Covid allows, we’ll be there to cheer her on.

If you would like to support ANT by supporting Jo, please contribute to her Just Giving page. With a few weeks still to go until the run itself, she has already raised £882 – well over her initial target of £500!

We’re grateful to another ANT supporter, who has taken on a personal running challenge to raise money for Seend. Leonora Fox took up running last April and by the end of the year had run 400km. In 2021 she plans to double this, running at least 15km every week, including over 100km in April!

By the second week of February she had already reached 100km for the year and raised more than £325! If you would like to sponsor Leonora head over to her Go Fund Me page.

Tree Planting Going Strong at Hazeland

Thanks to the help of dozens of local volunteers we have almost 2,500 trees planted at Hazeland!

Each tree planting day is now restricted to a group of six, all local, plus a trustee. We are planning two or three planting days per week through till the end of February, but we have another 6,500 trees and shrubs to plant so it’s likely we will be working into March. We are not currently looking to recruit any more volunteers, but when lockdown is lifted we may have more opportunities for people to get involved.

University of Bristol Using Hazeland for Tree Growing Research

Avon Needs Trees is always looking for ways to amplify the benefits of buying and owning land, and one way is to allow local universities access for their long-term research.

At Hazeland, we have allocated a section of land to Tommaso Jucker, NERC Research Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences. Tommaso and his students will be able to conduct research into tree growth and carbon sequestration for decades to come, with no fear that the land will be sold or the owner will change land-use plans.

Tomasso at Hazeland – 09.01.2021

The carbon ‘locked up’ in the growing biomass of the trees will be precisely measured, as will the impact of restoring below ground biodiversity by adding soil fungi and leaf litter from the ancient woodland. Will these additions improve the survival and growth of young trees during the critical early stages of reforestation? The research findings will be fed up to the Crowther Lab in Switzerland, the HQ of international afforestation research, of which ANT is a member.

Forest of Pewsham Booklets For Sale

Trustee Pete Williams with one of our Forest of Pewsham booklets

We still need to raise several tens of thousands of pounds for our next purchase at Seend, near Melksham! To help us on our way, volunteer Hannah Sackett has written and illustrated a beautiful children’s picture booklet, telling the story of Pewsham Forest and how Hazeland will help restore a part of it. They’re printed on recycled paper, using high quality vegetable inks, and the illustrations are truly exquisite. For a donation of just £5, we will put these in the post first class for you. Just email us with your address and how many booklets you would like via contact@avonneedstrees.org.uk.

A page from inside the booklet

Tree Planting Has Begun at Hazeland!

We have trees in the ground!! After an extraordinary year of hard work by Trustees, volunteers and supporters of all kinds, our Woodland Trust trees were delivered yesterday and planting finally began.

Trenches to store tree whips – 17/12/20
The first birch trees planted at Hazeland! – photo by Mala Tu 17/12/2020

Over January and February almost 10,000 trees and shrubs will be planted at Hazeland, leaving substantial areas to rewild naturally. See below for the detailed planting plan put together by our wonderful volunteer Woodland Officers – Alister Wynn and Chris Horwood. Together, they have contributed enormously to our Land Management team, conducting soil tests, overseeing contractors, and generally getting involved in all aspects of managing Hazeland. Huge thanks to both of them!

Dorian Is Leaving

Many thanks to Dorian Wainwright who will be leaving us as ANT administrator and interim Project Coordinator at the end of December. Dorian has worked with us since ANT’s inception and has set up all our systems and processes, as well as being our front-line communicator with volunteers and supporters. We are truly grateful for his hard work and commitment and pleased to know that he will be continuing to work with us behind the scenes.