A big tree planting bonanza has seen 900 native species introduced at key South Cumbrian sites as part of a national platinum jubilee mission.
University of Cumbria students and community volunteers have got behind new woodlands at Ambleside campus, and in Barrow, for the Queen’s Green Canopy, a unique initiative celebrating 70-years of royal service.
Thanks to the university’s Back on Our Map (BOOM) project, backed by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, sites have been transformed with saplings which will ultimately bring significant gains to wildlife and wellbeing.
BOOM, a far-reaching, four-year reintroduction programme extending to 10 different kinds of endangered flora and fauna across South Cumbria, has already established 4,000 trees and was keen to join the jubilee effort to plant more.
Species lead, Heather Marples, explained: “Our work is focused on community involvement and with Morecambe Bay Partnership we encourage people to join in and reconnect with nature. We were thrilled to see over 200 community volunteers taking part in the planting.
“Barrow Island Community Sports Hub gave us the perfect opportunity to link with those living nearby and help mitigate risk of damage from motorbikes in the sports fields. By planting species such as hawthorn and dog rose, which are great for wildlife, we formed a barrier to stop the cycles and provide security.
“Oak, beech, cherry and whitebeam were chosen to create native woodland and improve wildlife on Barrow Island. As Aspen is one of our 10 endangered species, we have been putting them where they’ll get most light.
“Meanwhile, students from the university’s Environmental Protection and Appreciation Society, based at Ambleside campus, planted 10 different clones of aspen to generate stock for future growth and diversity.
“It’s a good learning resource as they’ll monitor what happens when they’re back alongside more commonplace oak, birch and rowan. Students from the National School of Forestry will also help to monitor the success of the trees in what will be a new area of woodland in the heart of the campus.”
Although it can take between five and 10 years for the saplings to establish, they will help give aspens a future in Cumbria, as well as providing wildlife - and students - with a place to thrive, said Heather Marples.
She added: “We are very grateful to BAE Systems for funding the broadleaves at Barrow Sports Hub and The Tree Council who donated £5,000 for aspen cultivation.”
David Renwick, director of England North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said:
“We are delighted to see the fantastic progress that BOOM is making, and it is even more heartening to see the enthusiasm from the community in safeguarding the important natural heritage of the area.
“We know that the UK’s fauna and flora are incredibly important to National Lottery players, and we hope that the species’ fightback is hugely successful and offers those players that have made this funding possible a chance to discover the fascinating specimen that the project is striving to protect.”
BOOM’s grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund totalled over £1 million.