Volunteers help plant thousands of trees at North East landmark

Ushaw is going greener by planting thousands of new trees throughout its estate.

The new woodland areas – equivalent in size to around 21 football pitches – will be created at Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens, which sits in the heart of the County Durham countryside.

The areas will comprise of 24,524 new trees and land which will be retained as open space.

Volunteers from the local community will help plant the new trees alongside forestry management specialists Tilhill Forestry.

The project has been made possible thanks to funding from the North East Community Forest and support from Durham County Council’s Durham Woodland Revival (DWR) project, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

Ady Davis, Garden and Grounds Co-Ordinator at Ushaw, said: “Ushaw is delighted, after years of planning, to start planting our new woodland areas.

“As well as improving the biodiversity of our estate, we are also intending to engage local communities with not only the planting of woodland but their maintenance and management.

“There are plans to also enable access to some areas for our visitors and local residents to enjoy and learn about the ecological and social benefits of woodland.

“None of this would have been possible without the generous support of Durham County Council and in particular Ben Scotting, Durham Woodland Revival Forester, as well as the Forestry Commission and Natural England but most specifically North East Community Forest who have not only provided funding to enable the project to be achieved but have also provided advice and guidance in the application process.

“Ushaw’s new woodlands are not just going to be a blanket of planting.

“There are open areas, areas that are going to be coppiced, density changes to fit better with changing landscapes, and the ability for some areas to naturally colonise whilst respecting the trees of our existing woodlands.

“Yes, planting trees can be good for the environment due to carbon capture, but that is only one factor of many why woodlands are vital in our landscape.

“We hope that both our visitors and local residents are supportive and want to become involved in this exciting new project.”

The DWR project has been working with Ushaw since 2022 to assess their existing woodlands and to organise the new 15-hectare (37 acre) woodland planting scheme.

Cllr Mark Wilkes, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “The Durham Woodland Revival project is all about restoring woodland, increasing biodiversity and encouraging landowners and communities to reconnect with this important part of our natural heritage.

“The new woodland areas at Ushaw are a fantastic example of this. Not only will they create new wildlife habitats and help County Durham in its journey to become carbon neutral, but they will provide an accessible way for residents and visitors to experience the benefits of spending time in nature.

“Ushaw is one of the largest planting schemes the Durham Woodland Revival Project has supported and I would like to thank the team and everyone involved for their hard work.”

Lloyd Jones, Forest Manager at the North East Community Forest, said: “Our aim is to work with landowners to create greener, more tree-filled and accessible spaces for all to enjoy, encourage biodiversity to thrive and help the region tackle climate change.

“These new trees will be a wonderful addition to the Ushaw estate and we look forward to working with volunteers and partners to deliver this exciting project.”

The team at Ushaw will also be running community engagement dates throughout March.

Through this programme, Ushaw wants to involve people in woodland maintenance with the goal that people can learn about the establishment of woodland and be part of a sustainable future.

For more information on Ushaw Historic House, Chapels & Gardens, visit https://ushaw.org.

You can also follow @ushawdurham on Facebook, X, Instagram and TikTok.

For more information on the North East Community Forest, visit www.northeastcommunityforest.org.uk.

To find out more about Durham Woodland Revival, visit www.woodlandrevivalproject.info.

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