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Cambridge volunteers complete Logans Meadow tree planting



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Friends of Logan’s Meadow completed the planting of 250 trees in the field by the River Cam for World Soil Day today.

Friends of Logans Meadow volunteers include chair Tony Eva, fourth from right, and Guy Belcher, Cambridge City Council biodiversity officer, right. Picture: Mike scialom
Friends of Logans Meadow volunteers include chair Tony Eva, fourth from right, and Guy Belcher, Cambridge City Council biodiversity officer, right. Picture: Mike scialom

Teams of volunteers have participated in four planting sessions – on Saturday and Sunday last weekend and again this weekend – in a bid to improve the biodiversity of the nature reserve by the river Cam, which features established and protected wetlands and bird conservation.

The trees – a mixture of 20 different varieties including willows, English oak, maple, elm, Scots pine, birch, alder, holly, hazel, cherry plum, broadleaf thorn and hawthorn – were all sourced from local nurseries, says Tony Eva, the Friends of Logan’s Meadow chair.

Friends of Logan’s Meadow volunteers including James Murray-White, the Cambridge creative who has developed a network of 27,000 rewilders, on the site. Picture: Mike Scialom
Friends of Logan’s Meadow volunteers including James Murray-White, the Cambridge creative who has developed a network of 27,000 rewilders, on the site. Picture: Mike Scialom

“There’s around 200 people signed up to our newsletter,” Tony said at the information tent underneath the Chesterton bridge. “We’ve been going a couple of years. It’s a non-profit community group – desperately seeking funding to pay for the website, produce educational material and print leaflets, and for a tree trail. At the moment people are dipping into their own pockets. We want to make the environment better. There are 13 nature reserves in Cambridge and this is one of them.

“The great success there’s been is to have put in a stream next to the river seven or eight years ago, and there are now water voles and reed warblers – which are on the Red List for endangered species in England – back in.”

The Friends have had support from Cambridge City Council. Guy Belcher, the biodiversity officer for the council, is also happy with the progress.

Ready for a new life on Logan’s Meadow. Picture: Mike Scialom
Ready for a new life on Logan’s Meadow. Picture: Mike Scialom

“I haven’t been directly involved but we have a number of big diversity projects, though it hasn’t been easy because it’s now quite hard to get trees because of the increased demand,” Guy said as the volunteers began spreading wood chip around the bases of the trees.

“These were bought a year ago – the council acquired the trees for a part of the Cambridge Canopy Project, which got grant funding, and they’ve been kept at the Cherry Hinton depot, where we have a small tree nursery. They were in sand beds there, and we were grateful we had volunteers watering them during that time.”

The next step involves the wider community.

Friends of Logan’s Meadow map of site with the trees along two sides
Friends of Logan’s Meadow map of site with the trees along two sides

“We’re hoping the community will keep them in good condition,” says Guy. “Hopefully people will keep an eye on the trees during their dog walk, and give them a bit of weeding and mulching, which is more important to their wellbeing than watering. The wood chips are for the initial mulching, and we’ll top it up every six months.

“We’ve gone for bigger, more mature stock to really get this going.”

“There’s 20 different mature species to increase diversity,” adds Tony. “We’ve had 150 volunteers helping with the planting.”

Wood chips will protect the trees over winter and encourage mulching
Wood chips will protect the trees over winter and encourage mulching

Guy adds: “A lot of families have been here to help with the planting, a lot of different age groups as well.”

The trees are tagged to help people identify them and develop interest in their wellbeing. There’s a palpable sense of enjoyment on the site as the last trees are bedded in along two sides of the field. A pack of dogs run loose as their handlers get down and dirty with the roots of the saplings as they go into the ground.

“It’s been a lot of fun and a great sense of achievement over the last two weekends,” says one of the volunteers, Alessandra Caggiano.

There’s more biodiversity encouragement to come, says Guys. The conservation area on the site, including the wetland space, is set to expand “in the next few weeks” as part of the council’s biodiversity strategy.

World Soil Day is a UN initiative which began in 2002 aimed at spreading awareness about the importance of healthy soil.

“Halt soil salinization, enhance soil production” is the theme for World Soil Day 2021.

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