I’m not going to discuss the advantages we have over fake trees here or statistics as these points have already been raised in our blog section last year. I am wishing to highlight this plantations environmental credentials, in terms of what has been implemented to improve our co-habitation with nature and what we are still wishing to enhance.
At Pinewood we farm on a loamy soil structure that verges on sandy loam in places. This is fantastic soil to work with compared to the clay soil we have back home in Herefordshire. It does however have some disadvantages. With two streams on our plantation and two ponds the top soil is prone to run off resulting in the waterways becoming heavily silted over time, which in turn provides poor habitats to the local aquatic life. Our Christmas tree root systems bind the soil together and stabilise the soil structure resulting in minimal run off. Once the tree has been harvested, we plant a new tree next to it, leaving the old root to decay, in turn creating a home and food for the smaller insects. Now that the soil has so many mature root systems, we removed the many years of silt from both streams to the pleasure of a couple of ducks who now float down and into one of the ponds!
With somewhere in the region of 30-35,000 trees at Pinewood we have in essence a low level woodland which is a home and refuge to a large number of insects, birds and mammals. To help understand numbers better, Harper Adams University came over with 3 recording units that recorded bird song at sunrise for an hour for three weeks. Regrettably this coincided with removing silt build up in one of our ponds! It gave us a great insight into our birdlife but was slightly tarnished with the noise from heavy machinery working on the ponds! We will record again this Summer when all is quiet!
At Pinewood we are very proud of our plantations environmental credentials, however there is always more that can be done and this is what we have been up to in the past few years.
In the summer of 2021 it was decided to make a start on our rather sorry and unkept ponds. First job, clear all the windblown, diseased and dead trees that were hectically strewn in and around the two ponds. Completed with ease thanks to a forestry contractor and then ethically chipped and turned into bio mass. With approximately 8ft of silt in the first pond it didn’t take long for the water to be pumped out with any fish removed safely into the second pond. The ecological conservation contractors moved in and over the next two and a half weeks restored the pond to its former habitable glory!
The following spring the ground around this pond was cultivated and sown with a native UK wildflower mix. Within a month and in such dry conditions this area exploded into vibrant colours of white, blue, red and yellow bringing with it a swarm of dragonflies and butterflies, a total transformation and a gratifying result!
During the summer of 2022 we decided to dig out the second pond ourselves, after all how hard could it be?! After taking a little longer than expected we now have another clean pond with fresh water running through it. The native UK wildflower will be sown in the Spring 2023 to complete this project.
The nutrient rich silt was left to dry and this soil has now been used to reclaim an area of the plantation that was unusable. This will be graded out into a bank next year to be planted with yet more UK wildflower and to stock with native British hardwood trees. This will be completed by the summer 2023.
Both of these ponds have now become home to ducks, Coots, a Heron, Canadian geese and a Kingfisher, with ducklings and goslings in the breeding months. Much to our dismay the Heron has a taste for baby ducklings, so referring back to my GCSE wood work I made a duck house to alleviate the problem, to this day they still haven’t moved in which could give an indication of my GCSE grade!
An acre of grass was sown this year adjacent to the ponds to round off this fast becoming bio diverse Christmas tree plantation.
A few years ago we planted a new hedge made up Blackthorne and Hawthorne, this ran the entire length of the plantation and has become a shelter for wildlife in its own right, as well as discouraging our trees from growing feet and walking off in the middle of the night!
Larger animals in the plantation include Fallow Deer, Muntjac, Foxes and Rabbits and can be regularly seen at the right time of day.
Harper Adams are conducting a report for us on soil sequestration in our plantation. This is especially important to us so that we can ensure the soil is kept healthy and full of carbon. Due to the complexity of this subject, results are hoped to be with us next year.
We are genuinely eager to take care of this land in this beautiful part of Worcesterhire and aspire to leave it in a better condition than when we acquired it, ensuring Pinewood Christmas Trees and nature are working together as closely as possible.
It is also worth noting all work has been paid for by Pinewood Christmas Trees with no aid from grants.