What is Avon Needs Trees?
Avon Needs Trees is a newly registered charity (Charity Number 1184386) that aims to buy land throughout the Bristol-Avon catchment area and reforest it. We are supported by The Environment Agency, The Woodland Trust, The Bristol-Avon Rivers Trust, the local Wildlife Trust and local Friends of the Earth groups.
Almost all of the woodland in the Bristol-Avon catchment area has disappeared over the last few centuries. This is disastrous for many reasons but perhaps most pressingly because trees are essential for tackling climate change. Trees take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and protect the valuable soil beneath. By growing thousands of new trees we can take a significant step in the battle against a climate disaster.
Reforesting the Bristol-Avon catchment area has multiple other benefits. It will provide natural flood management which is much more cost-effective than engineered flood defences. All of the towns and cities in the area, including Chippenham, Bath, Bradford-on-Avon and Bristol are greatly at risk of flooding, particularly as climate change advances. Careful planting will also help enhance biodiversity and protect our water quality by reducing nitrogen run off. In addition, land acquired will have open access to the public, providing valuable public space.
We believe buying the land is a much better way to get things done. Asking land owners to voluntarily make these changes does not provide long term, guaranteed results.
What We Need Now
We have been working for the past several months on our first purchase - 34 acres of land at Hazeland, between Chippenham and Calne. Our bid of £325,000 has been accepted and thanks to generous donations from members of the public we've raised over £20,000 in just two months! The public response has been fantastic!
The money we raise now will go directly towards the land purchase. Previous funding has covered the costs of an independent land valuation, eco-surveys and our legal fees - and has got us off to a good start towards funding the purchase!
While we anticipate the vast majority of the money will come from large donors such as businesses and trust funds we still need to raise a lot of money from public donations. Please give as generously as you can - every penny you donate gets us closer to buying this land, so we can take a step forward in the fight against climate change.
If you have previously donated, many thanks! Please share our campaign.
What's Special About This Land?
The results of the eco-surveys are really exciting. There are a number of endangered species we hope to attract back to the land, including nightingales and some near-extinct woodland butterflies. We want to create a 'habitat mosaic' which is a mixture of scrubland, high forest and wetland. The land planning is being done in close partnership with the Woodland Trust.
Hazeland sits in the high catchment area for the river Avon between Chippenham and Calne. Both of these towns have been hit by floods in recent years and planting in the high catchment area also helps protect all of the other towns and cities downstream. As well as all of the empty, sloping fields there are also remnants of the old Berkshire and Wiltshire canal onsite, which we believe can be used to further improve the flood mitigation potential of the land.
Within Hazeland there exists approximately ten acres of ancient woodland which needs protection. We are likely to lose all the Ash trees, which make up a big percentage of the wood, due to Ash Die Back. There are also two enormous pastures in which we plan to plant trees, while allowing space for glades and biodiversity improvement. Buying this land will also help protect the river Marden which runs alongside it, and which currently fails water quality tests for nitrates and phosphates.