Brian's woodland vision takes root
Dr Brian May, Queen guitarist and founder of Save Me Trust will plant the first tree and mark the start of a Save Me Trust project to establish a new native woodland on a 157-acre site in Bere Regis, Dorset, next week (28th September 2013) during a community planting day. In total, more than 100,000 trees and shrubs will be planted over the next year in what is one of the largest new woodland planting schemes in the south of England this year.
Dr May’s woodland planting scheme aims to create a significant wildlife haven and enhanced ecological habitat on a site on the southern side of the village of Bere Regis which was previously agricultural land. The proposals include open, responsible pedestrian access and involve the gradual transformation of intensive agricultural land to a woodland and wildlife reserve
The woodland originally named ‘Save Me Woods’ has become known to local residents as ‘May’s Wood’ and the name has now become official. The local community has been consulted about the plans and many attended a consultation day in February when they heard from Dr May and other stakeholders involved. Locals are being encouraged to join Dr May and his team throughout the afternoon of 28th September and help plant some of the first trees.
Around 600 trees will be planted at the event, predominantly oak and supplied as small cells (20cm tall trees with their roots protected in a peat plug) which are easy to handle and plant for children and adults alike. People will be shown how to place the protective shelters over each tree to complete the process of tree planting.
Dr May says he wants to create an environment where people and animals can exist together. He explains: “I come from a place of playing guitar and music, but I’ve always had a concern about animals which led to the founding of my charity, Save Me Trust. Our basic philosophy is that this land used to be forest hundreds of years ago and now I want to reclaim it on behalf of our wildlife. Eventually, it will form a wildlife corridor and link on with the wildlife meadow.
“We have a wonderful possibility to make an environment which our children and grandchildren will grow up and enjoy in harmony with the animals around them.”
Eight fields are being planted as part of May’s Wood conversion from agricultural land into a new woodland habitat. Planted and managed by contractor UPM Tilhill, the range of trees will include oak, beech, chestnut, limes, wild cherry, spruce, douglas fir, walnut and woody shrubs. The majority of the tree planting will take place after 1 January once the farming cycle has fully stopped.
Anne Brummer, Chief Executive of Save Me Trust, added: "It's an exciting new project and our first experiment in maintaining a woodland with a natural balance for all to enjoy. We hope this will be the first of many such projects in the heart of the country, showing that fauna and flora will survive and support each other without too much interference from man. This land has had all its natural nutrients drained from it by intensive farming, it is now time for us to give it back by introducing a huge woodland planting scheme of native trees. It has been a long process to get here and we are all really excited about the future, watching this grow and expanding the project. May's Wood will totally Rock! "
Responsible pedestrian public access will be encouraged over most areas, with gates through sections where deer fences are erected and clear paths and rides set out to make a diverse experience to the visitor. The margins of the woodland will have a graduated edge with lower growing woody shrubs such as viburnum, hazel, hawthorn, bird cherry and spindle being planted through areas retained and managed for wildflowers.
All the young plants being used have been grown in the UK from seed taken from healthy trees or local sources. They are predominately native species, with the exception of walnut and conifer to provide winter cover. Due to the current status of ash die-back, no ash trees will be planted until a disease resistant species has been found. While the management practices will not be fully organic, the use of herbicides will immediately be greatly reduced from historic levels and after three or four years of the scheme, they will only be employed as a last resort to control any nuisance weeds. There will be no use of insecticides or fungicides that may have been regularly used on the arable land previously.
UPM Tilhill’s District Manager Julian Ohlsen added: “We are very pleased to be working once again with Dr May on a project such as this. We have huge amounts of experience in creating and restoring woodland, as well as wildlife habitats all over the UK, and this is one of the largest in the South for several years.”
UPM Tilhill, established more than 60 years ago, is a national company operating from a network of offices throughout the UK. UPM Tilhill is the UK’s largest forest management and timber harvesting company. The company provides a full range of consultancy and contracting services to the forest owner and forestry investor. Further information is available at www.upm-tilhill.com
Notes to editors:
While we are keen to publicise Dr May’s project, we also want the event to be enjoyable for the local community and uninterrupted. You are welcome to watch the events and record them taking place, but interviews can only take place at the end of the event (with the exception of live broadcasts at pre-arranged times). Please confirm by e-mail to [email protected] by noon on Friday 27th September whether you are likely to attend on the day and any special requirements you have.
The spot where the first tree is being planted is approximately 200 metres from a hard track so we advise bringing suitable footwear as it is likely to be muddy.
Interview slots available with Dr May from approximately 4 pm (see programme below). Please let us know your requirements especially if you require a live interview. Ann Brummer, Chief Executive of Save Me Trust, and UPM Tilhill’s Julian Ohlsen will also be available to interview.
Parking at the site is limited and vehicles should park in the village of Bere Regis which is a short walk to the site. If you are bringing a satellite truck, please let us know in advance so we can make arrangements for parking. Drinks and food will be available throughout the day for everyone attending.
2:30 pm Meeting and Welcome
All participants and press to make their way to Shitterton Wood Plot Field - adjacent to the A35 slip road heading west (BH20 7HU). The Save Me Trust team and Dr May will welcome everyone and explain the ethos and objectives for the new woodlands and how the scheme will develop.
3:20 pm The Woodland Song
Brian to introduce the Woodland Song. Performed by the school choir and led by Linda Lamon, this new piece of work will celebrate the event in music and lyrics.
3:30 pm Move to Horse Close Plots for Brian’s Tree planting. Dr May to plant the very first tree in May’s Wood.
Julian Ohlson of UPM Tilhill to explain and demonstrate how to plant the young oaks and the need for tree shelters, how they work, and how to fit them as part of the tree planting process. Tree planting continues as and when people arrive for as many as five trees each across the first field.
4:10 pm Wildlife Rocks Talk
The Save Me Trust team will give a 40-minute talk about some of the amazing wildlife that surrounds us and some of the unusual roles that it performs to maintain the natural balance. You will meet the people from Save Me Trust and Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue who care and rehabilitate wildlife and return them to the wild where they belong.
Finish 5 pm
This map shows the proposed planting area where 100,000 trees
will be planted in the next year
Brian purchased some woodland in Bere Regis several years ago and has recently added to the original woodlands with another 160 acres of farmland that is currently being used for both cattle and arable farming.
In September, this year, (2013) the farmland will start to return to its ancient state and become once again a woodland. It will provide a corridor for wildlife and a recreational space to be enjoyed by all. Over the next year, we will be planting 100,000 mixed trees which will not only provide a varying canopy height but will also provide a variation from dappled to dense shade. The woodlands will have over 60 acres of open area and with hazel coppice and other tree coppices that will provide homes for a multitude of wildlife.
We hope the new scheme will complement the existing area and will provide a wonderful space for all creatures including humans to enjoy. Part of the land has been retained by the Parish to be used for a village school and a nature reserve that will link to the newly named May's Wood.
There are Special protection areas already within the vicinity and this woodland scheme will complement the existing areas.
There are no plans to introduce any new wildlife species into the woodland. We will be working with Dorset Wildlife Trust and the residents of Bere Regis to assess the impact of the woodland renovation on existing flora and fauna and to adapt our plans appropriately.