Chris Bawtree
Chris Bawtree Nature Recovery Director
28 Nov 2023

As part of National Tree Week, I am excited to provide an update about the recent woodland creation works that Ground Control has undertaken at the Wildfell Centre for Environmental Recovery, our 296-acre rewilding centre in Essex.    

    National Tree Week is the UK’s largest annual tree celebration. Each year, the country’s conservation sector, volunteer groups and tree-lovers come together to plant thousands of trees to mark the start of the tree planting season.

An update from Wildfell

On the back of a successful first phase of woodland creation, the project has seen the planting of a further 50,000 trees to complete the proposed 50-ha scheme. This has connected the existing ancient semi-natural woodland and planted ancient woodland to create over 72 ha of predominantly broadleaf woodland, which is a fantastic habitat for native wildlife.

To create a balanced and sustainable habitat, the restoration of ancient woodland also included regenerating native hedgerows and creating a wildflower meadow.

While the headline of this planting is the sequestration of approximately 20,000 tonnes C02e over 50 years, there is also a huge benefit to wildlife and the wider Wildfell ecosystem. New habits will support a population increase in currently present species including; bats, woodland birds, badgers, Great Crested newts, pollinators, and other invertebrates, and will support a healthy fungi ecosystem.

There is also a significant positive impact on water quality with the reduction of soil erosion and ceasing chemical inputs on the land, and an increase in water interception, infiltration, and storage to contribute to natural flood management.

As part of the woodland creation project we are trialling the effectiveness of individual mulch mats and an innovative strip mulch system in partnership with the Forestry Commission. We believe these systems will support improved establishment in the face of drought pressures from our changing climate.

As part of our Ground Control 50-year celebrations, we are continuing woodland creation on site, planting a tree for every proud member, which we will complete during this year's National Tree Week. 

Volunteers planting trees at Wildfell part of #NationalTreeWeek 2023

I am extremely proud of our woodland creation on-site at Wildfell and impressed with the dedication of our partners who support us in our biggest-ever rewilding project. I look forward to sharing more Wilfdfell progress as the site continues to develop. 

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