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The winter is a busy time for me and my team as we spend many hours each day organising the planting of thousands of new trees across the New Forest.
In total, this year alone, the Forestry Commission has ordered more than 125,000 trees for the New Forest, Wareham and Ringwood area. 83,200 of these are conifers and a further 42,750 are broadleaf trees, all of which are being planted between November 2011 and March 2012.
The new trees are being planted according to our ‘Forest Design Plans’ which are regularly consulted upon by local parish councils and representatives from local associations. The Plans set out which woodland inclosures should be re-stocked with young trees, after having been previously harvested for sustainable timber.
As with past years, we are planting a wide variety of trees as part of our work. This is to respond to climate change and also to maintain the ‘mosaic’ effect which our local wildlife depends upon to thrive. A complex woodland structure that includes a ground layer, shrub layer, trees of various ages and species, with an overarching tree canopy is the ideal environment for ensuring a wide variety of plants and animals.
Soil type across the New Forest also determines what will grow best and where, and this is reflected in our Design Plans for the area. For example, in the coming months, we will be planting 44,500 scots pine (our native pine tree), 14,000 maritime pine and 24,400 Douglas fir trees, which are a North American species first introduced to the UK in 1827.
Added to this, we are also planning to plant 17,000 pedunculate oak trees (the oak of lowland England), 21,600 sessile oaks (thought to derive from France), 3,200 sweet chestnuts, 300 hybrid larch (a deciduous conifer), plus another 950 hazel, wild cherry, rowan, hornbeam and field maple trees.
On average, each team member plants about 700 trees per day - with 2,500 trees planted per hectare, which is the equivalent of 6’6” spacing between each new tree. Although intensive and tiring work, planting is an immensely satisfying job, as we symbolically ‘breath new life’ into our forests, ensuring that they are here for the next generation to enjoy.
Robin Mair, Forestry Commission's South Walk Works Supervisor