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The new tree trail at the Alice Holt Arboretum, a partnership between the Forestry Commission and the Alice Holt Community Forum (AHCF), has been officially opened by Ken Carter, the Chairman of Binsted Parish Council. The launch marked the culmination of over three years’ work involving the Forestry Commission and arboretum volunteers.
The arboretum, which forms part of Lodge Inclosure on the Bentley side of the A325, was originally set up in the 1950s to provide a tree species collection from around the world for the purposes of selective breeding and research for forestry. It is now being restored through a joint project involving the Alice Holt Community Forum and the Forestry Commission.
The restoration project has involved the removal of overcrowded trees, scrub clearance, the cataloguing and labelling of the important specimens using a state of the art GPS mapping system, the restoration of the path network, the provision of picnic tables and the installation of dormouse boxes
During the opening ceremony, guests were guided around the tree trail by Richard Jinks of Forest Research, the Forestry Commission’s research agency, who captivated the audience with interesting tales and information about the 30 specimen trees included in the trail.
The arboretum contains some 1400 notable trees of 60 species, and is important for its collection of conifers, including several species that are scarce or endangered in their wild habitats. Particularly impressive is the coast redwood grove, where trees planted in the 1950s have already reached 20 metres high. These will form a wonderful collection of giant trees, growing to an enormous size and living for hundreds of years.
There are also important collections of broadleaved trees , including the Italian alders and various species of Nothofagus (southern beeches) from South America as well as many fine oaks, sweet chestnuts and ancient yews which ring the area.
Forest Research’s Richard Jinks commented:
“Arboretums are wonderful places to visit and learn about trees, as well as being an important resource for science and conservation. It is now recognised that the impacts of climate change and new pests and diseases are serious challenges to the future of British forestry. The arboretum at Alice Holt is one of a network of tree collections managed by the Forestry Commission and Natural Resource Wales that are collectively a vital resource in providing information on the potential role of alternative species in British forestry.”
Colin Hall, Joint Chairman of the Community Forum, explained that they had successfully raised funds from Hampshire County Council and the South Downs National Park Authority for path restoration work and told guests that the event marked the end of Phase One of the restoration project. He added that the Community Forum, working with Binsted Parish Council, had logged an amazing 900 volunteer hours over the last three years.
“The Community Forum has worked really well, with Forestry Commission staff keeping us up to date with plans and activities in the Forest, and with the Parish representatives providing input and feedback. The Arboretum Restoration Project illustrates how that cooperation can work in a practical way. Many in the community had regretted how the arboretum had been neglected over the years, so we offered to help and the result can now be seen. There is much more to do and we are always happy to see new volunteers."
Arboretum volunteers meet on the third Sunday of each month. For information about volunteering with this project, contact Robert Simpson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The arboretum can be accessed by foot from Bentley Station (along the Shipwrights Way long distance footpath) or via the Forestry Commission car park on Gravel Hill Road near the Alice Holt Research Station.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Forestry Commission
The Forestry Commission manages over 250,000 hectares (600,000 acres) of woodlands in England. Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country.
The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England 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.
Forest Research is an executive agency of the Forestry Commission. It conducts world-class scientific research and technical development relevant to forestry to support and inform the policies for sustainable forest management of all four administrations in the UK. www.forestry.gov.uk/forestresearch.
For more information please contact:
Charlotte Magowan, Marketing Manager, Alice Holt Forest:
01420 23666, email@example.com
Colin Hall – Joint Chairman of Alice Holt Community Forum: 01252 793422