A Day in the Woods with Living Woods North East
After the success of our team beach clean with the Marine Conservation Society last year, we wanted to plan another outing with a conservation edge so, this time, we teamed up with Living Woods North East to do some tree planting at Horsley Woods in Northumberland.
Living Woods NE is a community interest company dedicated to the restoration, conservation and sustainable management of woodlands in the North East of England through;
- Helping to bring back native woodland to the North East of England
- Facilitating the reconnection of people and woodland through workshops, planting days and art projects
- Taking a joined up approach to woodland management and the many practical applications a woodland provides
Horsley Woods, just south of the village of Horsley in Northumberland, just off the A69 and on the banks of the River Tyne, is a privately owned woodland which Living Woods NE have leased for a few years and on which there has been woodland since the ice age.
The site is a managed plantation on ancient woodland with trees felled for commercial use, a knock on effect of which is the opening up of the canopy and increase in space and light for new plants and wildlife to take advantage of. The site is also currently in “coppice management”, an ancient woodland management technique once used to ensure regular supplies of timber and firewood, today it has a range of uses including creating stakes for hedge laying and generating local craft materials, as well as creating a range of habitats for plants and wildlife, dramatically increasing the diversity of species that thrive in the area. There is also a kiln onsite which produces charcoal to be sold locally.
The project Coatsink was involved with was about improving the existing woodland by adding in more oaks and hazels. And so, on the last day in February, at the end of this year’s planting season (a season which has reduced due to our much drier springs), a group of 19 Coatsinkers joined Living Woods NE facilitators Phil, Shannon, Lorna and Liz for a day in the woods!
After trekking our equipment into the woods (spades, mallets, tubes, stakes and of course the trees themselves – known as bare-root tree whips), and after a little bit of reconnecting with the woods, closing our eyes, breathing in the fresh air goodness and listening to the sounds of nature around us, Phil talked us through how to locate a good spot to plant our oaks in…
- Check the canopy to make sure there’s space and light for the new tree to grow, avoiding any overhead power lines
- Pace out 5 metres from any existing trees
- Keep 3 metres away from any paths or tracks and out of any ditches
Shannon and Phil then gave us a demo to show us what to do after we’d found a good spot…
- Scrape away the surface layer of vegetation with your boot
- Use the spade to create a split in the ground wide enough to push the sapling into
- Ensuring the delicate baby trees and their roots are kept moist and out of the wind, gently push the tree into the ground up to its root collar, being careful to make sure no roots are left protruding above ground
- Using the heel of your boot, “heal-in” the disturbed earth, back into place, making sure the tree is snuggly tucked in and no air gaps are remaining
- Gently slide the tube over the tree, making sure the collar is at the top to allow the tree to push outwards as it grows
- Facing it towards the prevailing wind, (South West), slide the stake into the cable-ties, use the mallet to hit the stake into the ground and secure it with the cable ties
- Rinse and repeat!
We paired off, spread out across the site and got to it. Before we knew it, we’d planted 150 oak saplings! We had a break for lunch, moved to a different site nearby and planted the hazels using the same technique but only having to keep a distance of 2-3 metres from other hazel trees. A little while later we’d planted around 80 hazel trees too!
We had a really great day. The weather was kind, it was refreshing to be outside, away from our desks and together in person, doing something fun and rewarding which will have a lasting impact for years to come. Good luck little trees, grow tall and strong!
Thanks to Mark from Living Woods North East for organising the day, and to Phil, Shannon, Lorna and Liz for facilitating. Keep up the good work!
Thanks also to our COO, Eddie, who kindly agreed to fund this event. Whilst funding was already secured for Coatsink’s trees and equipment, Eddie generously agreed to ‘pay it forward’ and cover the cost of trees, tubes and stakes for another group who may not have the resources to cover the costs themselves.
And thanks of course to fellow Coatsinkers Aaran, Ben, Brandon, Chelsea, Emma H, Ewan, Jorden, Josh, Mark, Matthew, Max, Paul, Richard A, Rich S, Rival, Sesh and Simon and to Odyssey PT, Megan, for getting stuck in and taking part. As Liz said, you did it with ‘panache’!
Emma B - Administration Manager
Emma is the Administration Manager and a member of the Senior Management Team at Coatsink. She has a particular interest in the environment and sustainability and heads up our Sustainability Committee.