They have planted 500,000 trees in the Colne Valley. And that number will keep on growing thanks to the dedicated work of the Colne Valley Tree Society, whose volunteer members brave all the elements, including hail and snow, to do their bit. Chloe Glover joined the tight-knit group on one of their weekly planting sessions, which they carry out from November until the end of March each year.
It is easy to spot the impact the 52-year-old Colne Valley Tree Society has had on the area.
Look in most directions and one can find the mixed woodlands lovingly created by the group on private land, from those by streams at the bottom to high up near Butterley reservoir.
It is the legacy of the un-faltering work of the CVTS, which was founded by former Slaithwaite GP, Dr Derek Phillips, in 1964.
He set about greening the valley from Thornton Lodge to Marsden, which he described as sooty, barren and industrial when he arrived in the area.
In doing so, he highlighted the myriad importance of trees, not just ecologically but also for physical and mental health.
A 16 strong group was already underway with work when I found them in a field high above Dirker Drive in Marsden.
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A doctor, a nurse and an IT worker, all aided by two over-excited dogs, were amongst the diverse group who regularly give up their Saturday mornings to the cause.
They had hoisted up large wheelbarrows filled with saplings, stakes and tools to begin the morning’s work, this time taking place on land owned by a family.
“We’ve got 180 to plant this morning”, said Geoff Cox cheerily, a member of the group.
“That’s 90 alder and 90 goat willow.”
A big task ahead, it wasn’t long before I was given my own mattock , a tool similar to a pick axe, so I could get stuck in.
“There’s a trick to the swing”, said Geoff, who used a shoulder drop to lodge the mattock into the ground in order to take the off the grass and expose the mineral soil– a process called screefing.
“The holes don’t have to be that deep but it’s important to get rid of the grass, because any left can kill the growing sapling.”
It was, inevitably, harder than Geoff made it look, due to his years of experience in the society.
But I’d soon dug dozens of holes just like the others, with a deeper pocket in the middle where the saplings would sit.
“We get them from various sources”, said Geoff, while secretary Simon Lyes lay the saplings down ready to be planted.
“The Woodland Trust give us a lot, as does the White Rose Forest.
“But the others we just buy in bulk commercially.
“The species we get include hawthorns, willows, oak, rowans and birch.
“Some companies provide us with the stakes and other items.
“But the rest is funded by the landowners, through donations and by us selling logs, which we get when thinning out the plantations so the trees can continue to grow.
“We don’t charge land owners a labour cost, just for the materials we need.”
They also get money for the DVD created by Geoff, Tree People, which explains the society’s history and work.
“It’s all about making a cleaner environment that benefits wildlife by making the most of people’s land”, he said.
Trowels now out, we started shovelling the soil we had dug out around the saplings, now sat patiently in the holes.
A short burst of energetic stomping around them was needed after planting each one, to compact the soil.
It was a great way to work up an appetite for the mandatory tea and cake break.
But one of the most vital parts of the work was still to come.
“Deer are a big problem”, said Simon, armed with stacks of green plastic tree shelters, or deer guards as the group knows them.
“There are lots in the Colne Valley and they can wreak havoc on the saplings.
“They roam both at the bottom and higher up the valleys.
“They will happily munch on a young sapling and are the biggest danger to the trees we plant.”
They were slotted around each sapling and tied to a stake knocked in besides them at a point best positioned to keep them unharmed by the unpredictable Pennine weather.
“It’s hard to accurately tell, but we estimate that 90 per cent of the saplings we plant survive”, said Geoff.
“They can take up to 25 years to reach maturity, but it depends on the species of tree and the exposure.
He pointed out an eight-year-old woodland in the valley by the River Colne, which is now coming into its own. Huddersfield Line railway and Huddersfield Narrow Canal have also been similarly greened by CVTS.
Astonishingly, we manage to plant all 180 trees within less than two hours thanks to a lot of good team work, tea break included.
It was only then easy to comprehend how so many saplings have been given new lives in the area, thanks to the group.
While the tree planting will stop this month, the work of the society lasts the entire year.
“Summer time is when we go to look at new sites and return to the land we’ve planted on to clear bracken and manage the woodlands.”
It is also the time for more volunteer recruitment, to get them ready to help plant the next several thousand.
It is the perfect opportunity for those wanting to help create a cleaner and greener Kirklees while getting a damn decent workout, and best of all, a fantastic slice of cake.
To get involved with or find out more about CVTS, go to hcolnevalleytreesociety.blogspot.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A group of conservation volunteers have planted 250 oak trees around Scammonden reservoir as part of a ‘Trees for Yorkshire’ campaign.
And it is all part of a scheme to help create a more climate change resilient environment.
The planting was carried out by around 30 volunteers from the Green Building Store company based in Golcar with support from Colne Valley Tree Society.
Over the last four years, a total of around 1,000 oak trees have been bought and planted at the popular beauty spot owned by Yorkshire Water.
When Scammonden reservoir officially opened in 1971 it had 40,000 trees around it but this has now increased to 80,000 thanks to replanting efforts.
Geoff Lomas, Recreation Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Scammonden Water is one of our most popular and beautiful reservoirs for people to visit. We welcome the Colne Valley Tree Society and its supporters planting trees at this site.
“These new trees will contribute to the landscape and bring benefits including increasing biodiversity, attracting more woodland birds to the area, improving the recreation experience for visitors and contributing to carbon sequestration.
“Across the region, we own over 2,000 hectares of woodland that we manage and conserve to ensure it remains for future generations to enjoy.”
Guy Thompson, Project Manager at the White Rose Forest Project which supports Colne Valley Tree Society, said: “Having a long-term partnership with landowners such as Yorkshire Water has provided the opportunity of bringing together local companies and community groups to create beautiful places.”
Scammonden Water, located West of the M62 in the Pennine Moors, supplies drinking water to Huddersfield. It is unique in that it is the only British reservoir embankment to carry a motorway.
At its deepest the reservoir is 52m deep.
If anyone wishes to get involved with the Trees for Yorkshire campaign