Volunteers help bring Chute Wood in Dunstable back to life after mass tree felling caused by disease

Volunteers have been planting new trees
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A Dunstable wood blighted by disease is making a comeback thanks to local volunteers.

Community groups joined the National Trust at Dunstable Downs to plant new young trees following the removal of diseased trees last autumn.

Chute Wood was predominantly made up of ash and Corsican pine trees, which were hit by ash dieback, and red needle blight. The wood was closed last year so all affected trees could be safely removed, leaving just healthy beech and oak trees.

Community groups came together to help plant trees at Chute WoodCommunity groups came together to help plant trees at Chute Wood
Community groups came together to help plant trees at Chute Wood

Over three days local community groups and families, including Scouts and Guides, and the Rotary Club of Dunstable Downs, who funded the project, came to Chute Wood.

Leah Calnon, senior community and volunteering officer for the National Trust said: “We planted over 600 trees, and from the smiles and laughter that filled each session, created some fantastic memories along the way. Our young planters did a brilliant job, and we look forward to working together as a community to look after Chute Wood for years to come.”

The Rotary Club of Dunstable Downs joined students from Weatherfield Academy for a tree-planting session.

A spokesman said: “After a short talk and demonstration from the rangers we planted around 80 trees in Chute Wood. It was an enjoyable experience and the children returned to school a little muddier than when they came.”

Around 2,000 native broad-leaf trees and shrubs have been planted, including English oak and rarer species like Wild Service. In time this will create woodland rich in biodiversity with different heights and densities, providing a home for a greater variety of wildlife species as well as opening up the woodland floor allowing native wildflowers to flourish.

Emily Smith, countryside manager for the National Trust said “By planting a variety of trees, the woodland will not only support more wildlife than if we just planted a single species, it should also be more resilient against any future diseases. As we saw on the BBC’s Wild Isles programme, we are one of least forested countries in Europe with just 13% of the British Isles covered in woodland so it’s important for us to replant Chute Wood to continue its survival.”

Visitors to Dunstable Downs will be able to explore the Wood on a circular path when it reopens for Easter.