Planting a Forest

The Logistics
In order to plant a woodland in the UK, one needs land. This can be either through buying the land or reaching an agreement with whomever owns the land for it to be used with this purpose. In the case of land purchase the Woodland trust recommends the following criteria should be met:

  • 1. A plantable area of at least 2.5 acres
  • 2. Grade 3*, 4 or 5 agricultural land
  • 3. No restrictions or designations such location within a National Park or an or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), or beinga designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), . The selection area should also not be subject to an existing Entry or Higher Level Stewardship scheme, (ELS, HLS)
  • 4. Flat, improved land that is not in an area prone to flooding or significant waterlogging. Flood risk ratings are maintained by the Environment Agency
  • 5. No underground services or electricity pylons
  • The Specifics
    Once CO20 had established an estimated goal of 696 metric tonnes of carbon to sequester, appropriate land was sought. Dr Alison Cooke found that her friend Dr Rosalind Smith, the owner of Pertwood Manor Farm, to collaborate with on the woodland planting project using her land in Wiltshire. Dr Smith was particularly keen to provide habitat for the endangered white letter hairstreak butterflies through the planting of larval foodplant tree species – white elm.

    At this point the project enlisted support from Harriet Cartwright, the national land agent already associated with the farm. Working through the estate management specialist Strutt and Parker Ms Cartwright helped Alison and Rosalind with the selection of the best areas of the farm for tree planting, determining an appropriate planting density and species mix and fixing project timings.

    Once these specifics were worked out, the buying of trees and equipment, and the hiring of help to plant them was guided by forester Charlie Hunt, Wessex Woodland. Mr Hunt ran future climate scenarios using the Ecological Site Classification tool (ESC)**, and recommended species for site by. Mr Hunt led most of the final aspects for CO20, calculating the carbon sequestration expectations of the tree species mix and organising the procurement of the saplings and actual planting. For the specific numbers on this project, see the next Pertwood Manor Farm and Visit section.

    *Grades 1 and 2 being excellent or very good agricultural land with no, or minor, limitations affecting crop yield, cultivation or harvesting. Grades 3 to 5 represent land with increasing limitations for agricultural use and being classified from “good” (3) to “very poor” (5). **Ecological Site Classification (ESC) is a web-based decision support system to help forest managers and planners select tree species that are ecologically suited to particular sites, instead of selecting a species and trying to modify the site to suit.