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Trees for Free!

We are sad that our conservation project at Crag House Farm cannot as yet welcome beneficiaries back onto activities. But the sensory gardens and conservation area need to be cared for and there is ample to keep Jake busy. The situation also requires thinking differently and here, Jake explains how we are getting trees for free!

“2020 has seen many changes in how, where and when we all work. Conservation work has been no exception to this process, with e.g. UK tree planting down an estimated 30% in the first quarter of 2020, compared to the previous year. At Caring For Life, we looked for other ways to have more trees on site.

One way is to select promising saplings found growing in existing hedgerows and allow these to grow on into mature trees. At Crag House Farm, the home of Caring For Life, we chose 20 strong, straight stems of hedge regrowth and marked them with a brightly coloured tag, then hand trimmed the hedge either side to make the sapling stand out. This way, the chosen saplings won’t get accidentally cut back.

Standard trees in hedgerows have enormous benefits for livestock and wildlife alike. They provide shade and shelter for our cattle and sheep using the adjacent fields. For wildlife, they provide shelter, food, nesting sites and song posts. Mature trees within a hedge provide unique habitat that a hedge alone lacks. For example some species of butterfly will only lay their eggs high up in the tree canopy. Likewise some bats and birds need a mature tree to provide them with the necessary crevices and holes for them to roost and nest in.

The saplings we hope to see developing into mature trees in our hedgerows included hawthorn, blackthorn, apple and hazel. Because they are already growing inside the hedge they have a better chance of long term establishment, do not require plastic rabbit guards or stakes and best of all they are completely free!


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