Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre in new woodlands scheme

Thousands of saplings have been planted at Cotebrook Shire Horse Centre as part of a scheme to create new woodlands

Planting thousands of trees on land at Cotebrook was just good horse sense, according to Alistair and Janet King. In late 2009 they joined a scheme to create a new woodland on a 50 acre site at the shire horse centre they run.

In December 2009 they planted 1,500 native UK saplings - a mixture including oak, field maple, silver birch, wild cherry, crab apple, hazel and elder.

The Kings were among the first to sign up to the scheme which is run by the Woodland Trust and which has so far planted about 700,000 trees across the country.

Their 50-acre site is next to The Alvanley Arms, which has had a long association with Cotebrook - in fact, the couple owned the pub until the end of May this year, when they decided to turn their attentions and energy purely to the shire horse centre. And given that they have made a commitment to look after the saplings for the next 10 years - until they are large enough to hold their own against marauding deer, rabbits and other wildlife - this was probably a wise decision.

Native woodland is one of the richest habitats for wildlife, from plants and flowers, amphibians and fungi, birds, bees, butterflies, voles, and other creatures.

The new five-acre woodland also includes three ponds; and, after only 18 months, wildlife including stunning dragonflies, adders and water voles have populated the area. The woodland is currently fenced off while it establishes itself, but the Kings expect it to be open to the public next year and plan to make it an educational as well as enjoyable experience for visitors by creating paths and erecting information boards.

Most Read

Janet said: ‘We want to promote and conserve native breeds and raise public awareness and, as an environment conducive to wildlife is essential for this, we commissioned the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group to look at our site and advise us how to go about creating it. From their recommendations, we have put in woodland, waterways and ditches to create wildlife corridors.’

Cotebrook is home to up to 30 shire horses at any one time, as well as to many other British animals and birds, including pigs, hens, ducks and more elusive wild creatures such as red deer and otters - which have either been born in captivity or rescued.

The Kings were helped by Hyde-based Total Refrigeration Ltd who plant a tree for every piece of refrigeration equipment recycled. Janet added:

‘The Woodland Trust has been incredibly supportive in terms of advice regarding the type of trees to plant and the maintenance required. More Woods is an excellent scheme for landowners who want to create a woodland to be shared with the public.’

And Clare Ollerenshaw, More Woods manager, said: ‘We estimate that to tackle climate change and ensure all the environmental and wildlife benefits that trees deliver, we need to be planting 20 million trees a year in the UK.

‘As planting rates have actually declined to around six million per year, we believe More Woods, which supports and advises landowners wishing to plant trees on their own land, is an effective way to help people to plant.’

Tim Kirwin, site manager for Cheshire and Merseyside, added: ‘When we went back to Cotebrook with Total Refrigeration this May to plant their 10,000th tree, I was really impressed at how well the woodland was growing and that everything had survived. It’s a tribute to Alistair and Janet's commitment and demonstrates that More Woods at Cotebrook has been a complete success.’

Staff at Total Refrigeration have also helped plant trees at St Benedict’s Wood, Rainhill and New Moss Wood, Cadishead and managing director Dave Parkes said: ‘Since 2006 Total Refrigeration has been supporting the Woodland Trust and it was great to revisit Cotebrook and be able to plant our 10,000th tree.’

Plant a tree for the jubilee

Now is a great time to be thinking about planting trees. The Woodland Trust has launched the Jubilee Woods scheme to celebrate the Queen's 60 year reign.

The Trust is encouraging individuals, schools, community groups and landowners to plant trees by offering free tree packs, with the aim of planting six million trees across the country and transforming our landscape within a generation.

And 60 of these woods will be 60-acre Diamond Woods - one for each year of the Queen's reign - which will be featured in a commemorative booklet to be presented to Her Majesty. The Woodland Trust will provide a tailored design service, including species selection, advice regarding best practice and contractor management and aftercare visits and is looking for landowners to volunteer to lead the way.

There free Jubilee tree packs are available to order now and will include a royal sapling, grown from seeds collected on royal estates such as Sandringham.

The art of the woods

The Woodland Trust has organised a multi-media community arts project, which will run throughout the summer and autumn, encouraging people to produce art inspired by one or more of the 10 Runcorn and Warrington woods involved in the Woodland Communities Project.

This initiative will culminate in a Woodland Communities Project Celebration exhibition of the best art, to be held at The Brindley Gallery, Runcorn, in March 2012, celebrating the woods of Runcorn and Warrington and the achievements of the Woodland Communities Project.

Community art groups near Windmill Hill Woods and Murdishaw Woods have already been participating in workshops in the bluebell-carpeted spring woodland and it is envisaged that the project will continue working with groups and schools during the summer and autumn.For more information contact Gill Dobson on 01352 742143 or email