More trees now - community ‘tree harvesting’ event in Northampton

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Trees do lots of useful things – they draw down and store carbon from the air, give us shade in summer, and provide homes and food for wildlife. Trees also contribute to our health and wellbeing. Sadly, the UK doesn’t have enough trees – about 13% of our land area is covered by trees, well below the European and worldwide averages.Northampton residents are coming to the rescue with a novel approach to help plant more trees. A ‘Tree Harvesting’ event is taking place at Martin Moore Wood in Northampton on Sunday 28 January.

The technique of Tree Harvesting has been very recently introduced to this country from the Netherlands. It involves carefully removing small sapling trees to be replanted where they will have a better chance of survival - saplings which take root under a mature tree or in a pathway are unlikely to survive and would normally be cut down as part of woodland maintenance. Removing and replanting young trees creates a chance to supply locally-grown trees to a different site for free. The technique itself is not new; it’s been used successfully by gardeners for a long time. However, scaling up the idea to provide large amounts of free trees using volunteers is new and works well in the Netherlands.

The Dutch process starts with 'Harvesting' and relocating trees to temporary 'Hub storage' i.e. a trench where the little trees can be kept in good health. The third stage is a tree collection event to give away the harvested trees free to the public to support tree planting projects.

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Northampton resident Mick Lorkins, the event organiser, expects the Harvesting event on 28 January to provide trees that are two or three years old and about 1 to 4 feet high. He said:

Martin Moore Moore Wood Martin Moore Moore Wood
Martin Moore Moore Wood

“The tree heights would be from knee high to shoulder height and from a recent inspection of the woods, species harvested would be oak, field maple, hazel, rowan, wild cherry and hawthorn, amongst others. These are all species native to the UK which will have a good chance of thriving when replanted and will support our native wildlife too.”

A recent similar event in Corby harvested over 300 trees of 11 different species.

The event is supported by Climate Action-West Northamptonshire (CA-WN) and by West Northamptonshire Council (WNC), which manages Martin Moore Woods. Debbie Samwell, Senior Ranger in the WNC Environment, Countryside & Parks Team has been actively involved in setting up the event.

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Anyone interested in helping out at the harvesting event is asked to register on the 'MoreTreesNow' website. Mick is also keen to hear from people interested in receiving free trees for local tree-planting projects, who can contact him through the 'MoreTreesNow' website.

Martin Moore WoodMartin Moore Wood
Martin Moore Wood

The organisers are hoping the event could be replicated and promoted elsewhere in the county and across the country, as a community project that benefits existing woods by removing unwanted saplings and provides a resource for new tree planting schemes. Anyone running a similar event can register it on the 'MoreTreesNow' website for free.