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Why did a volunteering task make Charlotte so apprehensive?

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Posted: Monday 20th March 2017 by Bernwood Project

Blackthorn, spindle and hawthornVolunteers planted spindle, blackthorn, oak, hazel, crab apple and wild service to name just a few. Photos by Kelly Thomas, Jim Asher and Andy Fairbairn

Charlotte Karmali and the Finemere Wood volunteers plant 1,000 trees in the wood

Charlotte KarmaliWritten by Charlotte Karmali

Volunteer Warden at Finemere Wood, Bucks



It was with some trepidation that I gathered the troops in February for a very different work party; the planting of 1,000 trees. It was not the number of trees that made me apprehensive, it was the knowledge that the Finemere volunteers have been programmed only for chopping trees down; this would be a challenge!

Having locked all weapons of destruction in the boot of my car, each one of us grabbed a bag of saplings and headed off in the direction of Quainton.

This area, on the eastern side of the wood, was clear felled of conifers some years ago. Unlike the expanse in the middle of the wood (which too was clear felled), natural regeneration has been minimal. This could be explained by excessive deer browsing, or perhaps the soil’s seed bank is poor along this edge of the wood.

And so the volunteers fought their way through long grass and brambles, clearing spaces to plant their trees: spindle, blackthorn, oak, hazel, crab apple and wild service to name just a few.

volunteers plant trees at Finemere Wood

Wild service (Sorbus torminalis): with lobed leaves, similar to maple; green-brown fruits, oval in shape and sometimes known as chequers; flowers, small and white, in clusters, bloom in May. This tree can grow up to 25m tall. The fruits are a valuable food source for many birds and some mammals. Before the introduction of hops, they were used to flavour beer and this drink was said to keep away the plague.

Once widespread, this beautiful tree became rarer as forests were cleared. Now it is confined to ancient woodlands and hedgerows. Rumour has it that there is one such tree in the depths of Finemere Wood, but for years even the experts have failed to locate it.

The volunteers soon got into the swing of tree planting, managing to suppress their desire for cutting implements. In years to come, their considerable efforts should be rewarded by a new and diverse population of trees, amongst them wild service.

wild service tree

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