Avon Needs Trees is a Bristol-based charity that is buying land in the Bristol-Avon catchment area to reforest and rewild. We spoke to the Charity’s Director, Dave Wood, to find out more.
Q: Tell us a bit about Avon Needs Trees (ANT) and its main objectives.
A: ANT’s purpoes is to acquire land to plant and maintain new permanent woodlands in the Bristol-Avon catchment, including Bath and North Wiltshire. We want to lock up carbon for good by planting the right tree in the right place, as well as boosting biodiversity, providing natural flood management and engaging the public in tree planting.
Q: How did Avon Needs Trees come about?
A: A group of environmentalists led by Nikki Jones founded ANT in 2019 because no-one else was buying land here to create new permanent woodlands. This caught the public imagination and ANT has achieved much in a short time. Despite being new, ANT has brought together experience and knowledge to ensure our new woodlands are quality, well-planned projects with maintenance at their heart. Our team includes specialists in woodland and land management and biodiversity, including people with careers in Natural England, Wildlife Trusts and English Heritage. We work with partners like the England’s Community Forests and The Woodland Trust.
Q: What successes has the charity had so far?
A: In fewer than three years ANT has raised the money to buy and plant two new permanent woodlands, with around 10,000 trees each, as well as protect an ancient woodland. This has included a full range of public engagement events at Hazeland, thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We have also completed the first phase of planting Pudding Brook Wood, involving 500 volunteers.
Q: Why is creating permanent woodland so important?
A: The West of England is severely deforested and is under threat from flooding, climate change and declining habitats. Creating new permanent woodlands is a proactive way to tackle these challenges.
Q: What are the key challenges the charity faces?
A: We’re lucky to have in-house specialists and a motivated volunteer base, but the main barrier to us going further is land supply. Buying land to create new permanent woodlands is expensive in the west of England; we rely on corporate and individual donations to make what we do possible.
Q: What direction do you want to take the charity in?
A: I don’t want to be limited to buying one new piece of land per year: our climate and nature emergencies require more than that. I’m keen to talk to both landowners wishing to sell land, and to landowners who would like to see woodlands created on the land they own, and who would like to partner with ANT to deliver that.
Q: How can people support ANT and get involved?
A: We’re always looking for more volunteers, donors and businesses who want to donate to help buy land as well as for landowners who either want to sell land or partner with us to deliver a new permanent woodland. Please get in touch!