Project to replace dying ash trees with 2,000 new saplings smashes target

A project to replace dying ash trees with 2,020 new saplings has smashed its target.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire challenged volunteers to collect seeds from oak, beech and hazel trees this autumn in a scheme dubbed ‘Ourboretum’.

The volunteers will plant the seeds at home, nurturing them into saplings over the winter before planting them in locations identified by the Cotswolds National Landscape team next winter.

It is hoped the new saplings will replace some of the thousands of Gloucestershire ash trees being decimated by the incurable disease ash dieback.

The project was launched in July. By September more than 1,000 saplings were being grown at home.

BBC Radio Gloucestershire announced on Friday that the total number now being grown had reached 2,700 – smashing the original target.

“What a phenomenal response, the enthusiasm from our local communities towards Gloucestershire’s great outdoors never stops surprising me,” said Chris Sandy, the station’s communities journalist.

“We wanted to be growing 2,020 trees before we headed into 2021 – at this rate we may collect far more than we ever expected, helping keep Gloucestershire green and leafy for generations to come.”

Groups getting involved in Ourboretum include dozens of schools and community groups.

Up to 90 per cent of British ash trees could vanish over the coming years because of ash dieback, according to the Cotswolds National Landscape organisation.

Andy Parsons, chief executive at the Cotswolds National Landscape, said: “Congratulations, and thank you, to everyone for their amazing combined effort so far with Ourboretum.

“We’re delighted to see how the project has captured the imaginations of people in Gloucestershire, and really excited to see how many pots transform into trees to plant out to combat ash dieback.

“We’re also amazed at the generosity of Ground Control, who have contributed 2,000 pots and mountains of compost to help more and more people get involved. Well done everyone, and keep going until the collection window closes!”

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