‘Wallasey Tree Planting Group’ plants 150 saplings at Wallacre Field

On a dull November morning, a couple of volunteers from the ‘Wallasey Tree Planting Group’ donned their boots and waterproofs to start the task of planting 150 trees at The Wallacre, on Mosslands Drive in Wallasey. birkenhead.news went along (regrettably, sans wellies), for a chat.

Anne Litherland with one of the “Wallasey Tree Planting Group” volunteers.

One of the volunteers, Anne Litherland, told us that the ‘Wallasey Tree Planting Group’ was formally inaugurated in October of 2019, though had been operating on an ad hoc basis for some time before that. It was started by Mike Thornton who wanted to do something locally about climate change. He found out that The Woodland Trust gave trees away to community projects, but he soon realised that he’d need more people to help plant the hundreds of trees he had access to.

The aim of the group is to plant as many trees as possible in the Wallasey area, within accordance with the ‘Wirral Climate Change Strategy.’ On the day birkenhead.news visited Wallacre Field, the plan was to plant 150 saplings along a 200 metre stretch alongside the motorway. Being such a large area, this allowed proper adherence to current COVID-19 guidelines regarding social distancing.

One of the volunteers preparing the ground for planting a sapling.

All of the trees that were being planted were native species, including hawthorn, alder, rowan, silver birch, dog rose, dogwood and silver birch and will grow to a maximum of 15-20m tall when mature.

Anne was proud that she grew from seed some of the saplings being planted – in fact, some of the seeds were gathered from Wallacre Field, making them truly indigenous to the site. She told us that they get the saplings from a number of different sources, “The Forestry Commission has given us a lot of saplings that were surplus to their needs. This was due to the pandemic, logistically they simply couldn’t plant all the saplings they had.” The Woodland Trust also provides saplings for the group to plant and they receive advice and assistance from ‘Wirral Tree Wardens’, who are a voluntary group and part of a national network.

Sally Thornton said, “The group has successfully applied for funding through the Co-op. The funding relies upon Co-op members choosing the group as their community fund. For every £1 the member spends in-store, 2p goes to the Wallasey Tree Planting Group’s fund, which the Co-op then matches.

“It doesn’t cost the member anything, and if people aren’t a member they can get a card in store for £1. This runs for a year, so the more members we can get to sign up and choose us as their local cause the better!”

A cardboard surround is used to prevent weeds from growing too closely to the saplings and smothering them, giving them a better chance of survival.

Up to November 10th, the group has planted 667 trees across 6 sites: Belvidere Field, Wallacre Field, Emslie Morgan Academy, Greenleas Primary School, St. Alban’s Primary School, and St. Mary’s College. Sally continued, “The idea behind the group was a collective to plant trees to help achieve Wirral Borough Councils Tree Strategy, which is to plant 21,000 trees per year for the next ten years.

“Alongside this, we wanted to set up a nursery to grow our own trees from seed. To do this we go out collecting acorns, conkers etc., to plant up and grow.”

The last of the day’s saplings await planting!

As to the future, Sally said, “Our vision for the future is to continue with growing our own trees and planting them out, and growing the group with new volunteers. We want to help the council reach their target for tree planting, as we believe trees are essential in combating climate change.”

There is a core team of 6, who along with help from friends and family carry out the task of planting the trees. “It’s a fun and fulfilling team to be a part of”, Anne said, “and we’re doing our little bit in our corner of the world to not only help combat climate change, but also make the areas we plant even more attractive for those visiting or who live nearby.”

If you would like to join the group of volunteers, you can find them on Twitter at @TreeWallasey or on Facebook @WallaseyTreePlanting – you can find the Co-op page about local causes here.