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Steve Halliwell outlined the history of the Woodland Trust

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The work of The Woodland Trust was the subject of the talk given at the September general meeting of Todmorden University of the Third Age. Steve Halliwell outlined the history of the Trust, which only came into existence in 1972. In that relatively short time the Trust has become responsible for over a thousand woods of native species covering 20,000 hectares of land.

The Trust exists to enable the creation and protection of native woods and their wildlife, and to have a wood with open access near to everyone's home. The Trust also aims to create twice as much native woodland as exists now, with no further loss, and to give every child a chance to plant a tree. Steve said that when children plant trees, they take ownership of what they have done. The Trust also enables children and young people to engage in lots of other ways.

Steve told his audience that an aim of the Trust is that everyone should recognise that trees and woods are an essential part of a healthy environment, having a myriad of different benefits for both wildlife and people. They stabilise the soil and help to prevent flooding, generate oxygen, store carbon, play host to a spectacular variety of wildlife provide us with raw materials.

Steve explained that the Trust also creates marshland, ponds, wildflower meadows and is setting about reversing the loss of 120,000 miles of hedgerows that has taken place over the last 70 years. He then took his audience through a timeline of woodland development planted from scratch.

In years 1 – 3, Orange Tip butterflies, bees, bats and grass snakes appear. During the winter, redwings and fieldfares will visit.

In years 4 – 12 tree pippits and whitethroat will join the bird population and after 12 years more wildlife will occupy and the woods will be open for recreation, will generate oxygen, store carbon and stabilise the soil.

In years 12 -20 wood warblers and chiff chaff will make their appearance and the already present roe deer will start to breed.

After 20 years, as the wood matures, more wildlife and birds such as the greater spotted woodpecker will be attracted and the tawny owl will start breeding.

Steve cited Hackfall, near Masham, as being one of the finest sites, alongside the river Ure, part of the Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It comprises 48 hectares set in a gorge of over 100 metres deep. Nearer to Calder Valley are Higher and Lower Holmes House, and the Greenwood, both near Keighley.

The Trust is supported financially by diminishing government grants, grant bodies, charitable trusts and foundations. These range from national organisations such as Lottery distributors to a variety of charitable trusts, donations, legacies, and membership fees.

Assisting the staff in the work of the Trust are over 1,000 volunteers plus the children that get involved through their schools or by other means. To get involved, become a member, donate, dedicate a tree to a loved one, or just find out more, visit the Trust's website.


The University of the Third Age meets at 1.45 at Central Methodists in Todmorden on the third Thursday of every month - find out about all of its activities at www.u3atod.org.uk

Many thanks to John Bouttell for this report


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