Hundreds of trees planted in 24 hours in bid to reduce Lake District flooding

Hundreds of trees will be planted across the Lake District today (Friday 10 February) in the first mass tree planting event ever attempted by the National Trust in the national park.

The trees will help reduce the impacts of future flooding and restore wood pasture habitats that have been lost, National Trust rangers say.

More than 90 people will plant a total of 1,400 trees at five sites in the Lake District National Park, including the shores of Lake Windermere and the approach to Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

lo-young-trees-planted-in-coledale-credit-john-malley

Saplings planted in the shadow of flood damage in the Coledale valley, near Keswick. Credit: John Malley / National Trust

As they mature, it is expected that the trees will help to trap rainwater and mitigate the effects of flooding. In late 2015 Storm Desmond brought record rainfall to parts of the Lake District, with 34.1cm of rain falling on Honister Pass, Borrowdale, over just 24 hours. Storm Desmond left the National Trust facing a £1million clean-up bill.

Mike Innerdale, assistant director of operations for the National Trust, said: “This is a real community effort, with dozens of volunteers helping to plant trees – restoring important wood pasture habitats and slow the flow of storm water off the fells.

“The Lake District is visited by millions of people every year. But the recent floods show just how fragile a landscape it is.

“The 2015 floods caused millions of pounds worth of damage, leaving scars on the landscape that are yet to heal.

tree-planting-in-coledale-credit-national-trust

Planting trees in Coledale, near Keswick. Credit: National Trust

“With major storms occurring more frequently, we’re working with farmers and local residents to look at ways of making the Lakes more resilient to flooding.”

At Braithwaite, near Keswick, rangers, residents and volunteers from the Woodland Trust will plant 500 native broadleaf trees over two hectares of pasture in the Coledale valley. In 2015 flooding caused a major landslide in the valley that lead to the village of Braithwaite being inundated with silt, boulders and other debris.

Emily Brooks, who lives in Braithwaite, said: “I’m really pleased to be planting trees above Braithwaite to help to reduce the impact that extreme rainfall has had on our village. It feels like important work now, to better protect our homes from future flooding.”

By planting the trees, Rangers and volunteers plan to restore areas of ancient woodland, create wood pasture and plant new hedgerows. These will offer a welcome home for birds like warblers, flycatchers and redstarts.

All of the 1,400 saplings that will be planted are native woodland species, including oak, birch, hazel, rowan and crab apple.

PICTURES: Ice petals flower in woodland at Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire

Rangers and volunteers at Hardcastle Crags, west Yorkshire, were treated to a rare spectacle last week as ice “petals” covered branches in woodland on the National Trust estate. 

Frost sculptures

Rangers and volunteers stumbled across these ice sculptures on dead wood at Hardcastle Crags, Yorkshire. Credit: Natalie Pownall/National Trust

Natalie Pownall, 25, National Trust Academy Ranger at Hardcastle Crags, said: “We were walking through the woodland at Hardcastle Crags with our conservation volunteer party, when we saw all these glittering white gems littered on the woodland floor. At first I thought they were fungi – but on closer inspection they turned out to be ice. 

“The ice formations are caused by water in the wood freezing. The water expands out of the logs, creating the beautiful ice ‘petals.’ 

“Most of these ice petals formed on the dead logs that we’ve left on the woodland floor after our woodland conservation work. One tree, which we felled last year, was covered in the ice fungi. Dead wood can also be an important habitat for invertebrates like beetles, birds and fungi. 

“You’ll often see these ice formations if the conditions have been below freezing and clear for a couple of days. Normally they melt away as soon as the sun comes up, but because our wooded valley is north facing and doesn’t get much sun we can enjoy the frost flowers all day long.”

National Trust statement on volunteering

Volunteers currently support the National Trust by performing over 200 different roles, including as room guides, rangers, event managers, conservation assistants and even business mentors.

In the last ten years, the Trust has seen its volunteer community grow to over 61,000, and we’re incredibly grateful for their support.

The number of volunteers, who support us on a regular basis, remains unchanged at around 40,000 and interest in volunteering at the Trust remains high. In some places there are even waiting lists in place for volunteers.

We however recognise that demographic patterns are changing: people will retire later and may find themselves caring for grandchildren or elderly parents.

The way people will want to volunteer their time is also likely to change in future. Our research shows people want a more flexible approach to fit in with their busy lives.

We are already responding to this challenge and have been working with staff and volunteers for a number of years to adapt our approach. This helped inform our 10-year volunteering strategy, which also looked at how we can make sure we continue to be attractive to new volunteers.

We know people will only give up their time if they enjoy volunteering at the Trust and that their skills, passion and interests are well-matched to the roles they are offered.

In our 2014 volunteer survey, 97% said they enjoyed their volunteering with the NT. And 96% said they would recommend volunteering with the NT.

We’re always keen to hear from people who want to volunteer with us. Anyone who is interested in finding out more about the volunteer opportunities available should contact their local property or look at our website.

Dorset jewel adds to the National Trust’s hillfort crown

The spectacular Hambledon Hill, one of the finest Iron Age hillforts in Dorset, has been acquired by the National Trust.

Hambledon Hill in West Dorset is a site rich in human and natural history. Credit: National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Hambledon Hill in West Dorset is a site rich in human and natural history. Credit: National Trust Images/Ross Hoddinott

Built over 2,000 years ago, the massive earthwork defences overlie one of the most significant early Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe, dating back almost 6,000 years, and is a place that half of British butterfly species call home.

Standing at almost twice the height of the White Cliffs of Dover and taller than the Gherkin in London Hambledon Hill occupies an area of land the size of 50 football pitches. From the summit of the hillfort you can see across three counties – Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire – and get a real sense of its prehistoric strategic importance.

Jerry Broadway, a National Trust volunteer working on Hambledon Hill, said: “When I come here I feel like someone would when they go into St Paul’s Cathedral.

“When there is no-one else around and I sit on the top of the hill looking at the view I feel very privileged. And to play a small part in looking after the hill is a good feeling.”

This is the first hillfort acquired by the National Trust in Dorset for 30 years. The Trust now cares for seven hillfort sites in a county which is internationally renowned for these special historical places.

Simon Ford, National Trust wildlife adviser, said: “The beauty of a magical place like Hambledon Hill is the combination of a rich natural and archaeological story that goes back thousands of years.

“Wandering around a site whose human history predates Stonehenge and takes you back to the early days of farming makes the heart skip a beat.

“The sound of a skylark ascending above the rich grassland and sight of a cloud of Adonis Blue butterfly in flight touches the soul. This is a place where you feel totally connected to the world around you.”

For the last three decades Hambledon Hill has been owned by the Hawthorn Trust and carefully managed by Natural England as a National Nature Reserve. The purchase by the National Trust is being funded by a Land Purchase Grant from Natural England and with money from a legacy left to the Trust for the countryside in Dorset.

The National Trust portfolio of hillforts in Dorset includes Badbury Rings, Lamberts Castle and Pilsdon Pen. The Trust also owns Hambledon Hill’s nationally important neighbour Hod Hill. Together they tell the story of the beginnings of farming, the need for defence and the arrival of the Romans’ in Britain.

Hambledon Hill has escaped the advances of agriculture over the centuries meaning that its archaeological features remain well preserved and clearly visible on the ground. Causeway enclosures on the hill date back to the dawn of farming 5,500 years ago and the story of this remarkable place is continued through the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Mat Carter, Natural England’s Area Manager for Dorset, said: “Natural England is delighted that the National Trust is the new custodian of Hambledon Hill National Nature Reserve.

“The Hill is a much-loved feature in the Dorset landscape with outstanding archaeology and wildlife.

“We know that the Trust will be an excellent steward of this important site, and will welcome people coming to enjoy the area’s natural beauty and its abundant wildlife.”

Designated a National Natural Reserve in 1992, twenty-eight species of butterfly, including the Adonis Blue, Dark Green Fritillary and Green Hairstreak, have been recorded here. This nationally important chalk grassland site is also home to at least five species of orchids, such as the Autumn Lady’s Tresses, glow worms, brown hare and a good population of kestrels and meadow pipits.

Octavia Hill Awards Ceremony

This week saw the second annual ceremony for the National Trust’s Octavia Hill Awards.

Pastel drawing of Octavia Hill

The event welcomed both the runners-up and winners of its three prestigious award categories; Natural Hero, Green Space Guardian and Love Places.

Fergus Collins, Editor of Countryfile Magazine was on hand to host the awards, while the National Trust’s Director General, Helen Ghosh, reflected on the work of our volunteers. Read what she had to say: Continue reading