Tree Planting & Aftercare introduction
This handbook is designed for use by conservation volunteers and others interested in planting trees.
The actual process of planting a young tree is not difficult or time consuming, although it must be done properly and with care. However, the success of planting will depend on choosing the right species for the site, and on providing an environment in which the young trees will thrive. This will require keeping the ground around the young tree weed-free, and providing protection from animals and vandals.
The temperate climate and varied soils of the British Isles allow a huge range of trees and shrubs from all over the world to be grown, and introductions of species for their fruit, timber or simply for their beauty have been made since Roman times.
When choosing trees for a particular site, you need to choose not only species which are suited to the site conditions, but those which will contribute to the wildlife value of the site, and also which will look right. In woodlands, commons, hedgerows, field edges and most other sites in rural areas, native trees should be the first choice. Preferably the plants should be of local provenance, that is of a strain which is known to have long grown in the area. Clear guidelines now exist as to the natural distribution of tree and shrub species. By following these guidelines you will not only be choosing species which are naturally suited to the site, but will be helping to maintain the special communities of other organisms which depend on native trees for their existence.
In existing ancient or semi-natural woodland, any planting should be avoided, and natural regeneration should be encouraged instead as a way of ensuring the continuity or expansion of the woodland.
In urban or suburban areas, in villages, school grounds, parks and gardens, trees other than native species may be appropriate. Many of our native trees grow too big for small gardens, and by using selected cultivars of native trees, or introduced species, a huge range of trees becomes available, many of which are valued for their foliage, flowers, fruit or form. The important environmental benefits of trees, which include counteracting the greenhouse effect, reducing noise and pollution, and providing shelter and shade, are shared by both native and introduced species. The higher temperatures, drier air, and increased pollution in urban areas compared to rural areas means that species from drier climates may actually thrive better than our native species, most of which are adapted to humid, cool woodland conditions.
Fruit trees have long been planted in gardens and orchards, and as well as contributing to our diet, provide the same important environmental benefits as other trees.
This handbook is mainly concerned with the planting of native trees, because of their importance in creating multi-purpose woodlands for wildlife, recreation and production of timber and wood. Many other books are available on the selection, planting and care of introduced trees for parks and gardens, and on the growing of fruit trees.
Tree planting and woodland management has been an integral part of conservation work since the charitiy’s inception in 1959. Tree planting and aftercare in school grounds, community gardens, parks and other non-woodland sites is another important area of work. In the last decade it has been closely involved with the Tree Council’s Tree Warden Scheme, which involves training and supporting local volunteers to take special responsibility for trees in their area. Tree nurseries are another important area of work, where support is given to volunteers in propagating trees and shrubs from locally collected seed for planting out in their local areas.
A recent important area of involvement has been the Trees of Time and Place campaign, a partnership of many environmental organisations in which The Conservation Volunteers was a leading partner. The campaign encouraged individuals and groups to collect and propagate fruits and seeds from both native and introduced trees in their local area, for planting out for future generations to enjoy.
The Conservation Volunteers are also helping with community involvement within the 12 Community Forests in England, where the aim is to increase woodland cover to about 30% by 2030, to provide high quality environments for homes, work and leisure.
The turn of the Millennium provided an added impulse to tree planting, with the planting of Millennium Woods and other tree planting schemes throughout the country. In Gloucester for example, The Conservation Volunteers were instrumental to the success of the ‘Trees 2000’ campaign, which involved planting 2000 trees in the city, half of which were planted by community groups, local residents and other local volunteers.