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Forest Diary

Celebrate the wonderful wooded legends

By Michael Pittock, Operations Manager – Forest Management, Forestry Commission (

There’s something deeply selfless about planting trees. Planting a seed or a young tree is a small act in itself. It’s not hard and it doesn’t takeKnightwood Oak. New Forest long. But that tree you plant could still be standing there 500 years from now. You’ll never see that tree fully grown yourself – but you know future generations will thank you for it.

Tree planting is one of our favourite jobs in the New Forest and we have such a privileged opportunity to see trees as they grow from seed to sapling and through to young-adulthood, creating new areas of woodland or expanding the existing tree canopy.

But of course, you don’t have to work for the Forestry Commission to plant trees – you don’t even have to own woodland. It’s something that everyone can get involved with. National Tree Week (28 November – 4 December) is a great reason to celebrate trees in all their glory and this year marks its 40th anniversary. The Tree Council leads this annual event which celebrates the UK’s proud heritage of tree planting, so why not become part of that story by planting your own tree? Many schools, businesses and community groups organise tree planting activities to improve their local area and plant new trees for people to enjoy now and in the future.

November is the perfect time to plant a tree, when they are dormant, and because the cool temperatures and regular rainfall create the ideal conditions for roots to grow before winter arrives. Selecting the right species is important, as you will need to consider how much space the tree will need and whether it prefers more light or shade. You can speak to your local Forestry Commission woodland officer for advice on how to plant a tree and how to care for it in its infancy. Alternatively, you can take part in an organised community tree planting event.

One easy way to celebrate the magnificent tree without getting your hands dirty is simply to explore your local forest and enjoy a woodland walk with friends, family or a four-legged friend.

The New Forest is home to thousands of trees of all ages, shapes and sizes. Don’t miss our very own Queen of the Forest, the spectacular Knightwood Oak which is located near the start of the picturesque Bolderwood Ornamental Drive. This impressive giant is over 500 years old (meaning it could have been planted when Henry VIII was the King of England) and has a girth of 7.4 metres (or 24 feet in old money). This makes it the largest oak in the New Forest.

Or you could head down to Rhinefield Drive’s Tall Trees Trail to appreciate the towering Douglas fir trees or look for the colossal Giant Redwoods. These spectacular species are the New Forest’s tallest trees and stand at a remarkable 56 metres tall. That’s taller than the tower at Winchester Cathedral!

National Tree Week is a reminder about how we shouldn’t take trees for granted and that they should be celebrated for the long-term contributions they make to our lives. Why not plant a tree and pass a legacy to future generations or head out the woods and visit one that was planted by some selfless person hundreds of years ago, so you could enjoy it today.

Find out more about National Tree Week here,

Last updated: 11/27/2015