The guest speaker at the April meeting of Barrow Civic and Local History Society was Paul Littlewood from the Woodland Trust. “Standing up for trees” was the title of his talk, which he began by explaining his involvement in the charity. He has worked as a volunteer for the Trust since 1998 and was very involved in the planting of How Tun Woods at Hawcoat, part of a nationwide project to celebrate the Millennium. The wood has become well established and provides a 15 acre habitat for a range of wildlife.
Paul continues to look after the wood, which benefits from a daily litter pick done by Paul’s wife. The pupils from Dane Ghyll Primary School visit the wood throughout the year to learn about the trees and wildlife which can be found in the local area.
The Woodland Trust owes its existence to the vision of an individual, retired farmer Kenneth Watkins, who bought a wood in Devon in 1972. He soon realised that only a national organisation could slow down the scale of decline in the woodlands and hedgerows, and since 1972 the Trust has become the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It manages over 1000 sites and plants new native woodlands each year, restoring some of the natural habitats that have declined over the past decades.
The Woodland Trust encourages people to explore woods and discover more about the wildlife there, emphasising the benefits to health and wellbeing. It was interesting to learn that ancient woodlands are unique to the UK and often date back hundreds of years. The fact that they are irreplaceable means that since 2018 they were granted the same preservation status as listed buildings, protecting them as much as possible from development. An ancient woodland can be found locally at Swarthmoor Hall.
“Standing up for Trees” was a very informative talk which reminded everyone of the importance of preserving our woodland heritage, especially as the spring season is well under way.