The first planting of the 2021/22 season has taken place in November at a farm on the edge of Alvanley Village, near to the market town of Frodsham in west Cheshire.
One of Mersey Forest's woodland advisors met with the landowner in November 2020 to discuss their requirements and assess the site. A mixture of shrub and woodland was selected to be planted including English oak, silver birch and hornbeam, and in the wetter areas, species such as willow, alder and downy birch were planted.
As there are electrical pylons within the new woodland, shrub planting, such as hazel, dogwood, dog rose and guelder rose was used to screen the base of the plyons, whilst still allowing access for maintenance vehicles.
The planting was carried out by a contractor with the landowner getting involved by planting a sweet chestnut copse themselves within the woodland area.
The owner's aims for the planting included:
- Creating a resilient mixed woodland, where wildlife can thrive, with species adapted for projected climate change and potential pests and diseases
- Increasing overall biodiversity by connecting two woodland areas and incorporating open space
- Creating a carbon sink, potentially storing up to 2,509 tonnes of carbon.
Amongst a section of the newly created woodland, a 1.25ha field has also been sown with native mixed wildflowers. 0.25ha of this field is an open wildflower meadow and the seeds from these flowers should spread slowly to other areas nearby, improving biodiversity and nectar sources for insects.
The popular Sandstone Trail cuts through the site and the public should be able to enjoy the wildflowers which can be seen from the trail.
A small wildlife pond is also due to be created on the site with the hope that it will attract Great Crested Newts that have been recorded nearby, along with other important species such as frogs, toads and dragonflies.
This is an organic site and wood mulch will be used to suppress weeds.
7.22 hectares of woodland was created at the farm, with a total of 5,410 trees planted over 5 days by Forward Agricultural Services Ltd, led by Dirk Eberly.