With CO2 emissions rising and the planet on track to warm by 1.5°C above preindustrial levels by 2034, there has been a big emphasis on tree planting in recent years. This is a simple, natural solution for reducing our emissions, therefore Belvoir Estate is keen to support this cause, and make space for a diverse range of species. We do this by ensuring the right trees are planted in the right places. Here are just a few of the tree planting projects we have completed!
In March 2021, we planted 6000 mixed woodland trees across 3 sites. The whole team got involved with 1000 trees being planted a day. Each tree is protected from grazing animals with a tree guard.
On top of this, we also finished a big woodland swap! Originally planted for timber in the 1920s, 52 hectares of larch trees (non-native) were more than ready for harvesting. Larch is also susceptible to Sudden Oak Death which also kills oak and other tree species. We felled and replanted the area with around 21,000 native broadleaves. These included oak, small-leaved lime, wild cherry and sweet chestnut. Each one has a tree guard to protect them from the local Muntjac deer and other wild animals. We have now planted a total of 57 hectares of native woodland. This breaks up large areas of agricultural land to provide shelter and wildlife corridors for woodland species. It also enhances the landscape and improves recreational and sporting opportunities.
We are constantly developing our gardens to provide a wild sanctuary for visitors and animals alike. Last year alone we planted between 500-700 shrubs in the Castle gardens. As well as providing life and colour to the gardens, shrubs are essential for preventing soil erosion. They also support native insect populations including pollinators such as bees and provide cover and food for a variety of birds. The best time to see these shrubs in bloom is late spring to early summer; come and pay us a visit!
Tree works are a constant battle on a large estate like Belvoir, and we want to keep our beautiful grounds safe for visitors. We always try to protect our veteran trees and leave dead wood where possible for owls and insects to burrow in. Unfortunately, we do sometimes have to fell dead and dangerous trees. Our Estate Manager, Phil Burtt, is very passionate about the value of these native trees and has developed a replanting and new planting program to ensure the gardens stay beautiful and ecologically valuable for years to come. This year alone, the garden team planted a whopping 1000 oak trees around the Japanese Woodlands and Spring Gardens! Look out for them with their protective green tubes to stave off the naughty squirrels and muntjac deer. They just love to eat growing shoots before the tree is established!
In some ways commercial woodlands are not as valuable as ancient or non-commercial woods, as they are usually younger and less diverse. However, they do offer sustainable timber for building materials, biomass, furniture, you name it!
Using timber from sustainably managed woodlands can both reduce your carbon footprint, and provide habitat for woodland species. As the trees grow, they lock in carbon which will be forever stored in your dining room table, beams or doors. At Belvoir, we are currently using up ash wood, that had to be felled due to the aggressive disease ‘ash die-back,’ as timber and fuel for our biomass boiler. Our foresters at Silviculture have carefully selected a broad mix of native and climate change resistant species to replace these ash trees at Barkestone, to provide a robust, diverse woodland which can be used as habitat, recreationally and for sustainable timber in the future. To read more about commercial woodlands, check out Phil’s blog!
Drawing on historic plans, we have replanted two orchards which were last present over 100 years ago! 250 fruit trees have been planted near the main gate, and we are soon to begin planting the third and final orchard. See our Orchard Project for more!