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Rockingham Forest Blog

  • Writer's pictureHannah Dunstan

The first 10,000 trees are in the ground

Updated: May 10

By Hannah Dunstan

Hannah reflects on her first winter employed as a Woodland Ranger by NNC. She describes some of the highs and lows of planting trees during some of the wettest months on record, some of the things she has learned from staff and volunteers over that time and tells us what new challenges lie ahead.


When I first joined North Northamptonshire Council as a Woodland Ranger last summer, I was tasked with helping the local authority to accelerate their tree planting schemes in the hope of reaching their ambitious target of planting 10,000 trees within the year's tree planting season. This seemed like quite a daunting task, but I am happy to say that, despite the extremely wet weather and with the help of multiple teams within the council and volunteers, we have managed to surpass this target and plant 10,396 trees over the whole of North Northamptonshire! Many of these have been planted within the Rockingham Forest Vision project boundary and others further south in Wellingborough and Kettering.


A good job done in Croyland Park
A good winter job done in Croyland Park

For me, the tree planting season started in Kilborn Park, Wellingborough on an extremely cold morning in December. We have been working with Wellingborough Eco Group who received 420 trees from the Woodland Trust as part of their ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ scheme. Despite the cold we were joined by more than 20 volunteers who managed to plant all the trees in under two hours! We then returned in February and planted an additional 420 Woodland Trust trees in the park.


Continuing our work in Wellingborough with the Woodland Trust, we planted an additional 840 trees provided by the Free Trees for Communities and Schools scheme. We worked again alongside Wellingborough Eco Group, and also UP2U Youth Club and Weavers Academy to plant the trees over three days in March. It was great to see so many young people get involved with the scheme and help to plant the trees.

Wellingborough Eco group in March sunshine in Kilborn Park

After lots of planning and site visits, the next lot of tree planting took place in Corby on a greenspace on Dunnock Road. Working alongside RAIN (Resilience and Innovation Northants) we decided to plant a ‘Micro Forest’ to help to prevent flooding in the area. We planted a dense woodland containing 760 trees from more than 20 different species following Miyawaki methods. It is hoped that this style of planting will rapidly create a miniature woodland which will help to intercept rainfall and help with water flow through the soil. All the trees were planted by local residents and the 7th Corby Scout Group. Despite the heavy rainfall for weeks before the event and doubts that we would be able to go ahead, we managed to get all the trees planted. Due to the nature of the site, it was very wet and muddy but this didn’t stop the Scouts who in fact seemed to enjoy it even more! We were also joined by Sophie van den Bergh from Rockingham Forest Vision who provided some forest school activities for the scouts too.


The very muddy Dunnock Road micro forest

This was closely followed by some shelterbelt tree planting in Corby and Kettering. Here we planted 500 trees in total and worked with over 70 volunteers from local companies and groups. The volunteers worked hard to plant all the trees during a week in February. These trees are planted to replace those that have been removed due to Ash Dieback and other natural causes. Again, this was an extremely wet and muddy week, but all the volunteers joined in and enjoyed the chance to get out of their office and spend some time outdoors.


You'll find more pictures and details of the Dunnock Road and shelter-belt planting in Corby on the "What's happening on the ground" page of this website


Some of the team who worked on one of the shelterbelts despite the weather

Last year we also successfully received funding through the Coronation Living Heritage Fund to plant 2 new Micro Forests and 30 Community Orchards in North Northamptonshire. The first Micro Forest was planted in Kettering with help from school students from Hayfield Cross School and their Eco Group as well as other local volunteers. We had originally planned to plant the woodland in early February but unfortunately had to postpone as the site was completely under water due to heavy rainfall and flooding. Despite the setbacks we managed to plant all 760 trees following the same Miyawaki methods as the Dunnock Road woodland. We are also working with Earthwatch and Greatwell Homes who will be planting the second Micro Forest in the grounds of Croyland Primary School, Wellingborough.


Here is Kettering's new micro forest

Our final tree planting event took place at the end of March in Desborough. We partnered with The Conservation Volunteers who provided 500 trees which were planted by a group of volunteers from the National Grid.


Looking back over the last few months, despite the extremely wet weather, I have been blown away by the hard work put in by all the volunteers and young people who have offered their time to help us plant the trees and reach our targets. The volunteers got really involved in all our schemes and we’ve had some really great feedback from all of them. We are now beginning to look ahead to the next planting season where we have the target of planting another 10,000 trees - let's hope there will be rather less rain next winter!


Another great team effort at Croyland Park


We have also opened applications for the Coronation Community Orchards scheme which will allow community groups and schools to apply for free fruit trees to be planted next winter. (Lots of details here)

I am looking forward to continuing working with Rockingham Forest Vision and assisting with Local Nature Recovery Plans.

Finally, I am also looking forward to working with new volunteers who will help us to reach our targets again next season so, If you’d like to contact me with any queries or requesting more information, please email me at: Hannah.Dunstan@northnorthants.gov.uk.

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