A PROJECT to create a 60-mile “super woodland” stretching from the Forest of Dean to Worcestershire has been launched across three counties.
The Wildlife Trusts in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire are teaming up to connect two of England’s largest native woodlands, the Forest of Dean and Lower Wye Valley in the south and Worcestershire’s Wyre Forest in the north.
The ‘Severn Treescapes’ project will aim to “connect people and nature” by creating a corridor of trees, native woodland and hedgerows between the two forests “at a scale never seen in the region before”.
The trusts say the wider landscape has seen “a continued reduction” in tree coverage which is now being “exacerbated” by ash dieback disease and extreme weather events.
As farmland accounts for about 75 per cent of the land in the area, the trusts are aiming to support farmers to explore “innovative” ways of increasing tree cover while maintaining productivity, as well as encouraging whole communities to “understand the value of trees”.
The project was launched on the eve of National Tree Week on Friday (November 25), with ‘pear perry’ trees from the three counties planted at the Hempstead Landfill site in Gloucester by children from the local primary school.
Dr Juliet Hynes, Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust’s Head of Ecological Evidence, said: “We’re so excited to get this project up and running.
“It will provide a fantastic opportunity for local communities, landowners and farmers to build a closer relationship with trees.
“Trees and hedgerows can help to tackle the impacts of climate change - providing livestock with shade in the summer, fruit and nuts for birds and small mammals in the winter and increased water infiltration.
“What’s more, the wellbeing benefits of being in nature and around trees are well known and vital to our health and happiness.”
Severn Treescapes is a legacy project of the Queen’s Green Canopy, a national tree planting initiative which marked the Platinum Jubilee of the late Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year.
The trusts say the project will create more spaces for nature to thrive, including plants, fungi, invertebrates, and the recently reintroduced pine martens.
A team of on-the-ground advisers will work with land managers, farmers and communities to access funding for tree planting works.
The trusts will also engage 5,000 people through the expansion of BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s ‘Ourboetum’ initiative, which encourages people to gather native tree seeds and grow saplings at home before planting them in their area.
For more information about the project, go to www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/severn-treescapes.