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If gardening leaves you with aching joints, then spare a thought for forest workers in the East Midlands.
They have just begun the Herculean task of hand-planting nearly 82,500 trees in just four months as part of a major Forestry Commission re-planting scheme.
The new trees will make-up for those harvested for timber, help broaden wildlife habitats and also potentially stoke the fires of eco-friendly heat and power units when they are harvested latter in the century.
Forest chiefs are also speeding up the move away from planting more Corsican pine – once the staple crop of woods like Sherwood Pines Forest Park, near Clipstone, Notts – and diversifying the range of tree species planted.
Andrew Powers, from the Forestry Commission, explained:
“Nationally, Corsican pine has been affected by a disease called red band needle blight, which stunts its growth and can be lethal to the tree, so increasingly we are turning to other species and ones we think may stand up well to climate change.”
Woods being replanted this year include Annesley Wood, between Mansfield and Nottingham, where 15,500 trees will take root. A further 4,000 trees – all larch and Douglas fir – are destined for Sherwood Pines.
Across the region more hardwoods are also being planted like oak, sycamore and Sweet chesnut. Demand for such wood is on the increase as the market for wood fuel expands as a green alternative to fossil fuels. Revenue from such sales is up 40 per cent over the year, indicating that the woodfuel revolution is well and truly kindled in the region.
NOTE TO EDITOR
1. An experienced forest worker can plant up to 1,000 trees in a day, with crews working flat-out in all conditions except snow and ice. Saplings must be planted during the winter when their roots are fairly dormant, making the transition from the nursery into the big-wide world less stressful. But whilst planting may be done the old way, shaping the forests of the future is very much a 21st century operation. Design plans looking 50 years ahead are plotted on powerful computers using a GIS (Geographic Information System) programme, which includes a myriad of land management data from tree species and stocking areas, to conservation, geological and archaeological sites, along with waymarked routes and bike trails.
2. Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more visit www.forestry.gov.uk/EastMidlands
Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038