National Trust takes aim at net zero target with largest tree planting project to date at Wimpole - National Trust

The National Trust’s largest and most diverse tree planting project to date is underway on the 1,000 hectare (2,471 acre) Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire.

With 90,000 trees being planted across the wider estate, away from the Grade 1 registered parkland, the charity aims to plant 120 hectares (296 acres) of woodland, wood pasture and agroforestry by the middle of next month, despite the recent stormy weather.

The ambitious project has been made possible thanks to £1.3 million investment and funding from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and HSBC UK. The tree planting programme will also help with the conservation charity’s ambitions to become net carbon zero by 2030.

As with other landowners across the country, one of the biggest challenges facing the estate is climate change and how to manage the land to help mitigate its effects while increasing benefits for nature, while still running a profitable and productive business.

To tackle the issue the team is now planting 32 hectares (79 acres) of new woodland, 49 hectares (121 acres) of wood pasture and 39 hectares (96 acres) of agroforestry.

Thirty-nine different native apple tree varieties will be planted including many heritage species creating a belt of agroforestry - with six types grown for harvesting and juicing to include Ashmead’s Kernel, Egremont Russet and Greensleeves.

The team aims to generate income from growing apples, while still being able to harvest cereal crops as it has done so for the past 12 years.

David Hassall, farm manager at Wimpole says: “The 2,000 apple trees will be planted in rows to link two areas of well-established woodland, roughly 330 meters apart, to help encourage the estate’s rare Barbastelle bat population to travel between the woods, with cereal crops growing in between. The apple trees will provide food for pollinators, particularly bees when blossom emerges in the spring and the wildflower rich strips the trees are planted in will support a range of wildlife. The wood pasture and areas of new woodland will help counter drought as once established the trees will help hold water in the landscape as well as attracting plenty of worms and fungi which will help soil health as well as storing carbon. This means that we can continue to plant our arable crops and have healthy grazing pasture for our rare breed cattle and sheep.”

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Posted On: 24/02/2022

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