September meeting report

Nikki Jones, Chair of Avon Needs Trees, like many of us, is concerned about climate change and is keen to take action to mitigate its impact. Nikki believes that the simplest way forward is plant more trees. Trees and, even more importantly, the soil beneath are key to the sequestration of carbon dioxide and the alleviation of flooding downstream. Our speaker pointed out that only some 13% of Britain has tree cover compared to around 40% in mainland Europe.

With this in mind Nikki and others have founded a charitable trust known as Avon Needs Trees. Its first project is to purchase some 43 acres near Calne known as Hazeland. It is partly wooded, including some ancient woodland; it also incorporates a pond, paddocks and fragments of the old Wilts and Berks Canal. It is hoped that the Hazeland project will link up with other areas of woodland.

She and the local farmer/landowner have agreed to a purchase price of £325,000. A start in achieving this amount has been made via crowdfunding and it is hoped that grants from various trusts and the Heritage Lottery Fund will make a significant contribution.

A plan for the management of Hazeland is being carefully considered with a view to increasing biodiversity. Some areas will be planted with trees and others rewilded. This is being carried out with help from the Woodland Trust and other advisory bodies. It was noted that we have lost our top predators while, at the bottom of the food chain, many insects are vanishing. As a result the creatures in between, particularly many bird species, are in serious decline. Air pollution and water quality are also affected.

Do check out the Avon Needs Trees website here.    Roger Jones