When Mike Wadham, volunteer coordinator for the Tendring Tree Warden network in Essex, left the East Anglia Regional Tree Warden Forum in 2019, he was filled with great enthusiasm and ideas to celebrate 30 years of the Tree Warden Scheme.
Most importantly Mike wanted to recognise the tremendous work of all the Tendring Tree Wardens over the last three decades. In Mike’s own words, “they did it, not for the glory but for the love of trees!”.
With the help and support of Clive Dawson, Tree Officer for Tendring District Council, Mike came up with the ambitious target to plant 30,000 trees across the district. Thanks to a grant from The Tree Council’s Branching Out fund, Mike’s ambition is soon to come into fruition.
Volunteers will be working in partnership with landowners, farmers and Tendring District Council to plant almost 12,000 hedgerow whips and hedgerow standards this winter, increasing connectivity for wildlife and improving the landscape. What is so compelling about this project is the very positive and grounded engagement between all parties, particularly the appetite of farmers to regenerate old hedges, replace those historically lost, and to seek further tree and small woodland planting opportunities – it is clear that the farming community in Tendring is very switched on to the benefits of tree and hedge planting.
The excellent partnership working between Mike and Clive has been key to the development and successful funding of this project, with project management, surveys, farmer engagement, costings, tree sourcing and more. This will be key going forward, as in order to achieve the require magic number of 30,000 trees planted, the project will need to run in phases, with the final planting expected to be completed in 2022. Mike has also produced an excellent short film about the project, which you can see below.
Heritage fruit trees
Mike and Clive have also been working closely with the Essex Orchard Grower group, to graft and plant heritage fruits trees local to the area. They have focused on two apples varieties: Woodford (1900) and Stanway Seedling (1899) and two pear varieties: Gansel’s Bergamot (1768) and Johnny Mount (1990).
These trees will be planted not only in the hedges but also in local school grounds. One of the schools they are working with specialises in special education needs provision and Mike is overjoyed to be working with the school and other Tree Wardens to provide training and support to the pupils and teachers alike to enable them to care for and enjoy the fruits of their heritage trees.
One of the biggest challenges is that Tendring is the driest district in the UK, making successful establishment of the orchard and farmland planting challenging. As a result, mulching and good aftercare, especially watering, will be top of the list for Tree Wardens after planting. To mitigate this, local straw mulch is being sourced and applied by local farmers, with monitoring built in so that there can be a quick response to any extended dry period by utilising existing irrigation systems.
The project offers a test bed for different mulching approaches and The Tree Council and partners will investigate to see how such a landscape scale approach to planting can uncover innovative solutions to the problem that can be replicated in other parts of the country.
The Tree Council looks forward to joining the Tendring team on the planting day at the start of this exciting project.