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Creating a brighter future with trees on farms

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We're planting to tackle climate change

Native woods and trees are one of the best ways to tackle the climate crisis.

And we're pledging to get 50 million trees in the ground over the next five years, helping to put the UK on track to meet its carbon net-zero target.

A Norfolk farmer is helping to fight the nature and climate crises with hundreds of native trees.

Watching his young woodland grow is bringing joy to sixth-generation farmer George Atkin and his family.

The new native trees, including oak, wild cherry and Scots pine, were planted to capture carbon and create wildlife habitats.

Planted in winter 2016 with help from the Woodland Trust, the 283-hectare mixed farm in west Norfolk is already reaping the benefits.

© Richard Faulks / Woodland Trust

Investing in tomorrow

George planted half a hectare of trees, filling gaps in the canopy of an existing wood and creating a new block of woodland close to the farmhouse.

The Trust’s MOREwoods scheme was the perfect fit for the project, providing expert planting advice and subsidised trees from assured tree nurseries.

“These woods marked the start of an environmental journey for me, the foundation of ensuring the farm is passed on in a better condition for the next generation,” George explains.

Tree planting and management

Once the saplings were dug in, wood chip was laid to retain moisture in the light, sandy soils. A 400m hedge was also planted to link up the two woods, acting as an important corridor to help wildlife move between them.

“I had a great deal of help from friends,” George continues. “It was very hard work over the course of two weeks, but well worth it in the end!”

The new trees are now partly managed as coppice to provide wood fuel for the farmhouse, and partly for nature, where the understory will be improved with shade-loving woodland species.

Now hooked on planting, George has already created a traditional orchard full of local varieties too.

Exploring more opportunities

With an appetite for more trees, an agroforestry system could be on the horizon for George. This would involve planting native trees in alleys between arable crops which could then be harvested for fuel or timber.

His future plantings will be made even more eco-friendly by using fencing or denser planting to offset losses in place of plastic guards for protection.

Finally, George plans to collect seed from some of the farm’s oldest trees so he can propagate his own trees.

© Richard Faulks / Woodland Trust

Reap the benefits on your farm

Trees should be in every farmer’s toolbox. They help boost productivity, resilience and the health of the environment – with no need for trade off with food production.

At George’s farm, the trees are bringing added benefits as windbreaks for crops, shelter for livestock and enhancing the landscape character.

The Woodland Trust, with generous funding from Lloyds Banking Group, offers expert advice and funding to make your planting project a success.

For anyone planting over half a hectare, the MOREwoods scheme is ideal – it’s already created more than 3,000ha of woodland in the UK.

“I am very thankful to the Woodland Trust,” concludes George, “not only for the trees but more importantly UK sourced woodland regeneration and new plantings. I hope they continue to help communities, schools, farms, landowners and individuals to do their bit for improving and increasing our country’s native woodland.”

Start planting trees with subsidised schemes

From creating a shelterbelt to harvesting your own wood fuel, the Trust will provide tailored advice on the best species and methods to achieve your goals.

Experts will visit your site, guide your application from start to finish, and arrange tree delivery and protection.

No obligation advice and support is available for eligible schemes even if you decide not to plant. Saplings supplied are all sourced and grown in the UK.

Call 0330 333 5303 or visit the Woodland Trust website.