Sponsored: Planting trees for wildlife and the environment

To support biodiversity on their Shropshire farm, Mark and Liz Lea planted a woodland in February this year, supported by the Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods scheme
MOREwoods planting - credit Mark Lea
“The new woodland will support biodiversity and supply woodfuel for heating” - Mark Lea/WTML

Mark and Liz have been farming at Green Acres since 2000. Mark is the third generation of his family to run the farm, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather before him.

It’s a certified organic mixed arable and sheep farm, with a predominantly medium sandy loam soil, which is mostly in a five-year arable rotation including clover-based leys for seed, silage or grazing, as well as combinable wheat, oats and peas which are all grown for human consumption.

The total farmed area, including both owned and tenanted land, is 175ha, with around 130ha of that dedicated to combinable crops.

Working with the Woodland Trust

Green Acres has undertaken a small degree of agroforestry over the last few years, planting avenues of trees with support from the Woodland Trust.

Mark commented: “Liz and I created a small woodland 8–9 years ago, and this project made us realise how much difference a planting such as this could make in under 10 years.” It was the success of this woodland that made them decide to add another.

While researching planting advice, Mark came across the MOREwoods scheme which he thought would be the perfect fit for a woodland of this scale.

“I completed the application form online in autumn 2022, then was contacted by our local Woodland Trust representative Jack Starbuck to discuss the eligibility of the idea I had mapped out.” Jack then visited the site in winter to help evolve the plan Mark had put together and advise on tree species.

The Woodland Trust arranged the ordering and delivery of the trees and guards in February 2023, and has supported the project at every step – and, crucially, provided a substantial subsidy which allowed the farm to undertake the planting from a financial point of view. “The whole process was very smooth, very easy, and the support was generous – overall, both Liz and I are delighted with the result,” enthuses Mark.

Planting the woodland

Mark and Liz enjoy strong links with local community, so they advertised on a local noticeboard asking for volunteers to help with planting. There was a tremendous turnout, and over 30 people joined forces to get over 800 trees in the ground in a single day.

The farm has a biomass boiler so they wanted the woodland to have a productive element, and intend to coppice it in the future, so they opted for suitable species – including hazel, alder and maple.

“The trees have had an excellent start and are looking strong,” Mark comments. “We absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to apply for further MOREwoods, given the positive experiences we have had with the Woodland Trust.”

Plant trees on your land

If you’re considering planting trees on your land, MOREwoods provides tailored advice and guidance from local woodland advisers along with the trees and tree protection you need for your project. All with generous funding of up to 75%.

Find out more
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