The Work of the Woodland Trust

Our December talk was The Work of the Woodland Trust by Dr. Hayden Gabriel

A writer, tutor and academic, Hayden’s work is always concerned with ways of responding usefully to issues of environmental sustainability and thus the Woodland Trust has judged her sufficiently informed to represent their work.

The Woodland Trust was founded by Kenneth Watkins in 1972 and Avon Woods was the first site bought. We were reminded that we all need trees for our well-being, to create natural habitats for wildlife and for the air we breathe. The Trust is particularly concerned with ancient woodlands of which 85 per cent still remain unprotected. These ancient woodlands have been recorded since the 1600s and are themselves a valuable habitat for wildlife, fungi and British native flowers.

For the interest of gardeners Hayden drew our attention to the serious situation of pests and diseases. There are 19 pests and diseases, and now 126 million trees are in danger of the fungal disease ash-dieback but what can we do to counteract this serious problem? The Trust has put forward several ideas which they want implemented including a ban on imported live trees. Already they have trained 200 specialist volunteers. Dutch Elm disease caused by a beetle was also mentioned but work is still ongoing.

The impact of lost ancient woodlands was brought home to us when we were reminded that in the last ten years 319 ancient woodlands were lost, 100,000 hedgerows were destroyed and there was a 51 per cent decline in butterflies. On the positive side the Trust is greatly involved in replanting indigenous trees, which they grow in their nurseries.

Hayden touched upon the Fingle Wood partnership with the National Trust when 825 acres were bought in 2013.

Finally, the Trust has been involved with the conservation of 32 million trees in the UK but 90 per cent on the ancient woodland still needs our attention. The Trust is anxious for new members to join their campaign. They would like members of the public to be vigilant about any proposed planning application with involves destruction of our woodlands and to inform the Trust.