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Replanting Crowthorne Forest begins

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Crowthorne Forest fire May 2011

The first of 60,000 new trees are to go in the ground at Crowthorne Forest on Friday and Saturday 13 & 14 January to replace those destroyed by forest fires in May last year.  Some 300 local volunteers have come forward to help the Forestry Commission plant the trees following the worst forest fires in Berkshire's history.

The Forestry Commission has drafted in foresters from as far a field as the New Forest to help plant the thousands of young saplings and support the army of volunteers. Local residents, members of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Crown Estate, scouts and local businesses are among those digging in to replant Crowthorne Forest.

The task to plant all 60,000 trees is expected to take several months with professional tree planters and help from local volunteers. The young trees require many years of care with weeding, protecting trees from deer, rabbits, pests and diseases.  Any tree that dies within the first few years is removed and replaced, a task known in forestry as ‘beating up’.

Emily Weller, project manager for Crowthorne volunteers, said:

“We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that has offered to help as we have had an overwhelming number of phone calls and emails.  We hope that it is great event for everyone, an opportunity for local people to get together, enjoy time out in the great outdoors and help the forest get on the road to recovery.”

The Forestry Commission volunteer tree planting days planned for November or December 2011 were postponed because of the prolonged mild weather and delayed onset of winter. This meant that the new trees in the nurseries had not yet become dormant and so were unable to be lifted and prepared for planting.

Tree planting is weather dependent so the event is planned to go ahead as long as there are no extreme weather conditions, such as, strong winds, heavy snow or ice.  The trees can then be lifted from the ground in the Forestry Commission nursery in Delamere Forest, Cheshire, despatched and delivered ready for planting by Friday 13 January.

The volunteer tree-planting event in Crowthorne Forest is marking the launch of the Forestry Commission’s new nationwide volunteering programme and partnership with Volunteering England. 

Thousands of unique and exciting volunteering opportunities are available in more than 40 forests. From tree planting to mountain bike trail building and pond clearance to creating new habitat for rare butterflies, birds or leading forest walks, there’s something for everyone. For more information visit or contact the local forest office.

Notes to Editors

  1. The warmest April since records began, half the usual rainfall for the season and very high winds led to the fire at Swinley Forest being one of the worst in Berkshire’s history.  The path of destruction spread at 40 miles per hour at times, jumped roads and ripped through 170 hectares of forest affecting mainly the Forestry Commission’s Crowthorne Forest.

  2. The fire was confined by partnership working between the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, the Forestry Commission and the Crown Estate, as well as fire crews from across ten counties. Approximately 2,000 fire fighters were deployed over four weeks to contain and extinguish the blaze.

  3. The greatest loss was to wildlife, such as rare and protected ground nesting birds, and young trees under 20 years old, including areas forming part of nationally important research trials in to tree health. Most of the mature trees managed to survive the extreme heat though many trunks where charred. 

  4. The recovery work began in September when 30 hectares of burnt trees were mulched and other larger trees, that where killed by the fire, where cut by forestry staff and the timber was sent to local saw mills to produce FSC certified timber products. The ground has been scarified, up turning the soil and mulch, and now the earth is prepared for 60,000 new trees to be planted.

  5. 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. For more visit

Media Contact
Jo Spouncer, PR contact, Forestry Commission South East England
T: 01483 326265 M: 07828 762045 E: