‘Volunteer army’ to replace dying trees with 2,020 new saplings

A grassroots project will see Gloucestershire people growing new trees to replace the hundreds of thousands being wiped out by ash dieback.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire and Cotswolds AONB will lead an army of volunteers to grow at least 2,020 saplings at home over the coming year in a scheme dubbed ‘Ourboretum’.

According to the Woodland Trust, 95% of British ash trees will vanish over the coming years because of ash dieback, an incurable disease. Gloucestershire is home to hundreds of thousands of ash trees – it is the third most common tree in the county – and experts fear the loss could have a disastrous effect on the landscape and wildlife.

Ourboretum, launched today, will begin replacing the lost ash trees with oak, beech and hazel.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire communities journalist Chris Sandys said: “Our landscape is part of what makes Gloucestershire such a great place to live and it’ll be so sad to see it torn apart by ash dieback. But tying our communities with our countryside for generations to come is a thrilling prospect.

“Ourboretum is about getting people from all over Gloucestershire outside, enjoying our county and growing together for the good of the next generation.

“We plan to plant seeds to grow at least 2,020 trees in 2020 and we need your help.”

Garden designer and broadcaster Chris Beardshaw, an Ourboretum ambassador, added: “Ourboretum is such a fabulous idea. It’s beautifully simple; we go and collect seeds and we create a new generation of trees and woodlands in our own communities for our children and their children to enjoy.

“For me, being an ambassador for Ourboretum is a huge privilege. Growing trees is what got me started in my love of not just horticulture and designing landscapes, but of the countryside and really celebrating who we are as a nation and our links to the countryside.”

How to get involved:

  • Volunteers will be asked to collect seeds, during autumn, using the guidance online
  • Visit www.bbc.co.uk/ourboretum to find more information and tips for growing seeds at home
  • These home-grown saplings will then be planted across Gloucestershire next year. BBC Radio Gloucestershire and the AONB will identify locations where the fledgling trees can be planted and aim to log each one to create a permanent record of where they are growing

Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer at Cotswolds Conservation Board who look after the AONB, said: “We’re delighted to be working with BBC Radio Gloucestershire to launch Ourboretum. The loss of ash trees across the landscape in Gloucestershire will leave a devastating mark. The more trees we can plant to replace those we lose, the better chance we will have to benefit both the landscape and the wildlife that lives in it.”

To find out more contact trees@bbc.co.uk or go to www.bbc.co.uk/ourboretum

ENDS

Notes to editor:

For more information contact Jack Pitts on 07834 845545 or jack.pitts@bbc.co.uk