THE National Trust has planted more than a thousand saplings, just weeks after villagers criticised the charity for chopping up riverside trees.

Residents of Buscot, much of which is owned by the National Trust, hit out after willows were pollarded along a stretch of the River Thames in February.

The trust said that the traditional practice involved ‘cutting back riverbank willows to the height of two to three metres, and is carried out on a regular cycle of approximately 10 years’.

Now, the trust has revealed 1,100 trees have been planted in Buscot in the last two weeks.

Richard Watson, countryside manager at the Buscot and Coleshill estates, said: “The trees we are planting alongside the river are those which, over time, might naturally occur but we are giving nature a helping hand to speed up the process.

“Willow trees support more insects than any other, except for oaks, so this planting will provide a real boost for wildlife.

“The trees at both sites will attract many insects – bees, butterflies and eventually beetles.

“Once established, the trees will provide additional nesting sites for birds and be an additional food source.

“And, in a good few years, when the willow starts to naturally collapse, it could provide the ideal habitat for otter holts.”

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There are plans for approximately 38,000 trees to be planted at the estate over the next three years.

The National Trust said the aim of the planting is to help reduce flooding and replace some of the trees lost through disease over the last 40 years.

The first 1,100 trees were funded by the Great Western Community Forest.

Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 60,000 trees have been planted by the National Trust as part of a commitment made last January.

That commitment aims to see 20 million trees planted and established across the three countries by 2030.

John Deakin, head of woodland and trees at the National Trust, said: “The first two years of our 10 year plan was always going to be about doing the research and scoping out the right places to plant and establish trees.

“Taking this time to plan means ensuring we avoid areas where trees might damage important existing habitat, or actually release carbon from certain soil types, like peat.

“Similarly, we need to ensure important historic views and parklands are maintained appropriately.

“We’re also considering where trees could provide the biggest benefit for nature, climate and people – for instance by expanding and linking existing woodland, or by identifying locations near towns and cities where many people will be able to enjoy them.”

This story originally appeared in the Oxford Mail.

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