‘Incredible success’ as community group plants 165 trees along River Cam

A team of ten volunteers completed the planting of 165 trees provided by The Woodland Trust along the banks of the River Cam.

Some of the young trees of Salix next to the towpath

The project, a pilot to explore how to replace the many decaying trees along the banks of the river, was organized by the Cam Conservancy with arboreal surgeon Ben Hudson, with the help of Flamingos, an Extinction Rebellion affinity group. .

“The Cam Conservancy has a towpath,” explains Tom Larnach, River Director of Cam Conservancy. “We allow the council to have a cycle path and in return, they maintain the vegetation.

“But we were getting complaints about the bramble overgrowth, so last year we went upstairs and cleared a lot of vegetation, but it revealed that there was a lot of fungus around the trees and the disease had penetrated many of them, as well as white grubs. They rot from the inside out, some of them can be pushed with one hand.

“Many of the Salix trees along the towpath, which make up the majority of mature trees, are nearing the end of their life and unfortunately in the past there has never been a phased planting program for them. future to ensure a steady supply of mature trees.

New trees being planted on the Cam River towpath, April 2021
New trees being planted on the Cam River towpath, April 2021

“The vegetation held a lot of life forms around the tree, so Ben and I decided that at the end of the day there would be no more trees along the Cam and from there, we had the idea to create this community group which was fantastic.

The 165 trees planted are field maple, gray willow, silver birch, wild cherry, mountain ash and common oak – “a variety of Woodland Trust species for the benefit of wildlife and people by enjoying the towpath along the river ”. And community building has been at the heart of the success, says Tom, who took on his role in 2018.

“It was an incredible success and really brought the local community together,” he says. “All the volunteers, Ben [a tree surgeon who has worked along the River Cam for 40 years] and I love the Cam river and its towpath.

“It is important for all of us to leave a legacy so that future generations can enjoy the river or the riverside, as we have been able to do. We’re planning another round of planting next year, but we’re pretty limited along the narrow strip of land that runs along the river, so we’ll have to see how that goes.

Tom Larnach, Director of the River Cam Conservancy.  Image: Keith Heppell
Tom Larnach, Director of the River Cam Conservancy. Image: Keith Heppell

“I would really encourage other community groups to come together and plant more trees. Woodland Trust Community Tree Packs are free as long as you can demonstrate tangible benefits to the area and its people. “

It was a pilot project to explore what can be done and how to do it. Working with community groups and riverside landowners, the hope is to plant 3,800 trees in the fall on the north bank of the River Cam between Fen Road in town (old pike and eel ) at Clayhithe near Waterbeach (4200 meters) on the strip of land 2-3 meters behind the edge of the bank, which includes the two-meter towpath.

A spokesperson for Flamingos, which was formed in November 2019 as an affinity group in Extinction Rebellion, said: “Trees will replace trees lost in 40 years due to disease, danger and abuse. The trees help to keep the banks in good condition, to promote wildlife and biodiversity. They also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus helping to reduce global warming. A tree lasts up to 100 years. “

Cam Conservators are responsible for navigation on the Cam River and own the towpath where the trees were planted and oversaw the planting, which began on April 21 and took place on April 29.

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