Community digs in to plant new wood

Rebecca Johnson plants a Swedish Whitebeam tree on behalf of the Belford Scouts, Cubs and Beavers.
Rebecca Johnson plants a Swedish Whitebeam tree on behalf of the Belford Scouts, Cubs and Beavers.

A NORTH Northumberland community has pulled together to plant a wood for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

An overgrown and neglected part of Belford has been transformed by a group of volunteers.

And a key stage took place on Saturday, when representatives from groups in the village planted a tree and many other residents gathered in the March sunshine to watch the creation of the new woodland. Everyone agreed it was a real community event.

The project has been running for a while now after a clearing operation.

Ivy had become so invasive, it was pulling down trees and strangling growth on others, which resulted in trees becoming weak and, with high winds, the trees were crashing down into the Belford Burn and blocking the flow, causing potential problems for the village flood defences.

Northumberland County Council, who own the land, did not have the money to undertake a programme of thinning so Belford Environmental Champion Brian Rogers suggested that there were chainsaw-qualified people in Belford who would take down the thin trees and the dense blackthorn that were causing the problems. He suggested that there could be a partnership between the county council and volunteers from Belford who wanted the area to look beautiful.

Following planning approval, as the site was in the conservation area, a plan of action was drawn up between the volunteers and the county council’s Neighbourhood Environmental Action Team (NEAT).

The trees, once felled, were stripped of their branches and the main timber was cut into metre-long lengths and taken away to be stored and dried out, ready to be given back in the form of small logs to the elderly people in Belford this coming autumn.

Once cleared, the area was beginning to look bare and the volunteers had agreed that some new trees should be planted. Brian’s wife Elisabeth suggested that the area could become a Belford Diamond Jubilee Woodland and so the idea was born.

While the area is not big enough for 60 trees, 25 have been planted consisting of five Cherry, five Crab Apple, five Rowan, two Winter Flowering Cherry, two Silver Birch, two Aspen, two Hawthorn, one Field Maple and one Swedish Whitebeam.

Brian contacted all the clubs and societies in the village from the Scouts to the Mothers’ Union to the Churches, the football team and the schools to ask if they would like to buy a tree for the woodland and all agreed. Border Consultants (Forestry) Ltd. helped obtain the trees.

The Diamond Jubilee woodland is by no means finished and the future plans are to install gates on Croft Field and South Road and link them with a meandering woodland walk alongside the Belford Burn. The woodland will then be planted with woodland bulbs and flowers.