Updated: Sep 13, 2021
During autumn 2021, families will come together to help fight climate change in monumental tree-planting events that will help re-wild parts of Farnham Park and Weybourne Nature Reserve. This kid-friendly activity is a great way to show the importance of protecting our natural environment both now and for future generations; I certainly hope my own kids will visit the site(s) when they're adults, and show their children the trees they helped plant there.
There are currently three areas across Farnham Park and Weybourne Nature Reserve to plant trees, with the idea to form:
Two mixed Hazel and Hornbeam coppices at Farnham Park
an Alder Carr at Weybourne Nature Reserve
If you'd like to get involved in these projects, buy your tree here now.
A 320-acre medieval deer park, with a boundary that has remained unchanged for 600+ years, Farnham Park is a mixture of grassland, veteran trees, avenues, dells, hills, valleys, ponds and streams. At its highest points it boasts impressive views over the town, and is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, area of Historic Landscape Value, Grade 2 listed Historic Park and Garden, Local Nature Reserve and has received Green Flag status. (1,2)
The park is currently managed using traditional methods (i.e. coppicing, thinning in the woodland, hay making and cattle grazing) by the Waverley Country Management team, and Friends of Farnham Park.
Picture taken from Friends of Farnham Park website
Hazel & Hornbeam coppice site
Coppicing is a traditional woodland management technique in which a tree is cut close to the base causing it to produce vigorous, multi-stem re-growth. Coppicing is a great way to increase biodiversity and the lifespan of a tree. We'll be adding to a pre-existing coppice, as well as creating a brand new one. Both sites will offer food and shelter for many species.
Hazel trees have a smooth grey-brown bark that peels with age, and bendy, hairy stems. Left to grow, hazel can reach a height of 12m and live for up to 80 years, (3) yet coppicing can increase its lifespan to several hundred. (3) The animals that'll benefit from hazel include numerous species of butterfly, birds (e.g. Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Jays), deer, who'll use it for shelter, and other native mammals such as the Dormouse, Wood Mouse and Bank Vole.
Hornbeam is a native broadleaf tree that has the hardest wood in Europe, and has been coppiced or pollarded (top cut-off to promote growth) for centuries because of this. (4) With an impressive lifespan of over 300 years, hornbeam can reach 30m in height and is similar in appearance to beech (except its leaves are smaller with deep furrows and serrated edges). (4) Like beech, hornbeam doesn't shed all its leaves in winter meaning it provides shelter for animals. By spring its leaves are replaced with catkins, which are eaten by many species of moth, and in autumn through to winter its papery, winged seeds (samaras) feed birds and mammals.
Weybourne Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
This site is 5.9 acres and sits on the southern outskirts of Weybourne. It has a variety of habitats including woodland, grassland, fern and scrub. However, the area we will be planting at is located between Nuffield Health gym and the allotments. It's owned and managed by Waverley Borough Council, who have kindly let us 'Green Up' the site with Alder. In boggy ground, these trees form wet woodlands known as Alder Carr.
Alder trees thrive in wet soils, making them the ideal species for our planting site which is currently a disused recreational ground due to continual flooding. Up until now this ground has remained grassland and offers little in the way of biodiversity, however, Alder are a great food source for a birds and invertebrates. (5)
Great at fixing nitrogen into the soil, Alder are beneficial for plant life too, and due to their light, delicate appearance they don't shade-out plants growing underneath them. The bark of Alder trees is grey, and flecked with white, and its leaves are round and toothed. It has catkins from early spring, which provide pollen and nectar for bees and early pollinators, and woody cones that house seeds (spread via wind) in the autumn. (4) These seeds are a prized food source for birds such as Siskins, Redpoll and Goldfinch.
Don't forget to check out our events page and buy your tree(s) if you'd like to join us.