Growing a new forest in Peterborough

Forest for Peterborough, an exciting initiative to plant trees for residents…

Peterborough can be found neatly sandwiched between Lincolnshire,  Northants and Cambridgeshire on the edge of the Fens about 80 miles north of London. As a city it has strong environmental credentials: in 1992 it was designated as one of the four Environment Cities in the UK and now has ambitions to call itself the UK’s “environment capital”.

Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) was formed around 20 years ago to take forward the environment city agenda and it has launched an ambitious tree planting programme, the Forest For Peterborough.  

The plan is simple: over 20 years they want to plant over 170,000 trees, one for every person living in Peterborough. Or that was the figure when the Forest project was launched in 2010 but, as a result of the 2011 census, Peterborough’s population has now been estimated at 186,000. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the country.

The Forest project was launched in November 2010 and Woodland Trust President, Clive Anderson, spoke of his passion for trees at the launch event. The project is run by PECT working with the Peterborough Natural  Networks Partnership, which includes a range of partners including Peterborough City Council, the Woodland Trust,  Forestry Commission,  Natural England, Wildlife Trusts, RSPB etc. 

Things have got off to a great start. In the first year and a half of the project,  almost 8,000 trees were planted by PECT and over 27,000 by other partners, which includes the Woodland Trust’s Diamond Wood at Burghley House. And it’s not just about tree planting.   Heritage Lottery Fund are supporting some work in three small ancient woods n Peterborough to improve their biodiversity and access to the public.   

There are similar projects going on in a few other places around the country. If it’s not already happening in your area, why not suggest to your Council that they plant a tree for every resident? Maybe find out the email address of your local councillor and speak to him/her about it. And do let us know how you get on.

Nick Sandford, Regional & Local Government Officer – North West & North East


About Kay Haw

Assistant Conservation Adviser, Woodland Trust. Nature is my passion, especially woods and trees which are just amazing elements of life. One day (soon) I hope we humans learn to work in harmony with Mother Earth.
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14 Responses to Growing a new forest in Peterborough

  1. paul michael o'donohoe says:

    why all this hatred of sycamores, saying they hinder biodiversity is rubbish i have been to lots of woodlands and i saw no evidence that sycamores hinder other trees, no one really knows about the status of sycamores, it seems an excuse to obtain wood using some lame excuse as it is just as easy to set up a new woodland but its all about the lure of grant money, my local woodland was decimated sycamores were targeted to increase biodiversity but beech, ash and other trees coexisted with these sycamores for hundreds of years, i went down my local woodland a lot before it was butchered and yes grant money was involved, so i notice these things about my local woodland and outsiders made the decisions about my local woodland there was no public consultation especially when my local woodland was a designated nature zone a sycamore tree that had a active carrion crow nest was cut down this carrion crow nest had been there for over 20 years. for your information sycamores absorb more pollution than most trees which help to reduce co2 levels eco 88 sycamores provide home for a diverse range of wildlife and insect life as like i said i take the time to take in the woodlands and study it and i notice these things but people like you seem to get it in your mind that sycamores are the villains of the countryside and need to be rid of , sycamores are a good quality wood the ancient egyptians used sycamore timber to make chairs wooden toys and various other things and the ancient egyptians traded with celtic britain i guess thats where they got there sycamore timber from as you must realise that britain was once covered in trees and perhaps sycamores were over logged leaving only a few isolated pockets of sycamore trees to survive. the thing is we do not really know what is native or non native, horsechestnut is non native should these trees be cut down, no it seems fashionable to go after sycamores just like in the past house sparrows were brutaly hunted because they dared to increase their numbers and people labled them as pests the same sort of people that label sycamores as pests, do not like what i am saying tough money should not be wasted cutting down sycamores and should be stopped this money could be best spent om more worth while causes. woodland are suppose to be wild and free thats how i like them not fussed over and not controlled as you can not controll nature and have you sycamore haters not got anything better to do, conservationist should not dictate with regards to sycamores do they actually do extensive studies on the tree cutting down the sycamores is more to do with making money. i would rather see the money used to build more homeless shelters and help keep open remploy factories and also keep open special needs schools which close through lack of funds but there seems to be plenty of money to cut down sycamores grow up you sycamore haters

  2. Shelley Cash says:

    Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) is in a fortunate position, as an independent charity we can set ourselves ambitious targets due to continued support and successfully securing funding for our projects. Peterborough’s population is expanding fast and PECT is striving to ensure this population growth is sustainable, one aspect of this being a green infrastructure.
    To address this, our Forest for Peterborough business plan has been updated and using stats from the 2011 Census we now plan to plant 183,600 trees, up from 170,000 set in 2010. It is important to remind ourselves why we want to plant these trees.

    Why plant trees?
    Trees provide a multitude of benefits, both long and short term. As well as being attractive aesthetically they remove and store carbon from the atmosphere, slow heavy rain and so reduce the risk of flooding, enhance air quality and improve the urban heat island effect by reflecting sunlight and providing shade. Trees bring economic benefits to an area by reducing green-space maintenance costs, providing saleable products such as fuel and timber, and by raising house prices on aesthetic grounds. Lastly, trees greatly benefit the people living around them by having a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing, reducing stress and encouraging outdoor exercise.

    Our vision is certainly achievable for Peterborough with the involvement and support of the communities of Peterborough (businesses, schools and individuals). Businesses like IKEA, Peterborough City Council, the Olive Branch Community Garden, Ann Corder Recruitment, Utility Aid and News International have all previously committed time and money in supporting the project.
    We are currently ahead of our target as the Forest for Peterborough has so far planted 7,467 trees in the Peterborough area and has been working in partnership with other organisations securing a further 27,000 trees for the forest, a total of 34,467! This season we plan to plant 6,375 trees at sites across Greater Peterborough, some of these include; Sutton, the Voyager Academy and Thorpe Meadows. One of our biggest challenges has been finding land appropriate for planting on and we are implementing an advertising and marketing campaign to raise awareness of the project and our need for land.
    When we are notified that trees planted for the Forest for Peterborough have died or been damaged, we replant these trees using secured funding and these trees are not recounted as part of our target.
    If you would like to show your support and get involved in the Forest for Peterborough please contact 01733 882545 or email
    To find out more visit or join us on Facebook

    The Forest for Peterborough Team, Peterborough Environment City Trust

  3. eco88 says:

    Professor Oliver Rackham

    Title: Professor
    Initials: O
    Firstname: Oliver
    Surname: Rackham
    Letters: OBE, FBA, MA, PhD
    Position: Life Fellow
    Interests: Botanist; ecologist; history of vegetation and landscape in Britain, Ireland, the Mediterranean and the United States.

    Dr Oliver Rackham is a botanist and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. An acknowledged authority on the British countryside, especially trees, woodlands and pasture. THE HISTORY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE won the 1986 Angel Literary Award, the Sir Peter Kent Conservation Prize and the Natural World Book of the Year Award.

  4. eco88 says:

    Rackham, Oliver. Woodlands (2006)
    Ch. 4: Pollen analysis and wildwood
    The age of humanity
    …Britain never had bison, and some common European plants, such as the yello thistle Cirsium oleraceum, reach Calais but no further. Some trees, like sycamore and spruce, are supposed not to have crossed the Channel after the last glaciation, but since they are not native in coastal France this cannot be the only factor involved. Others did not reach Ireland.
    Ch. 10: Woodland in the field
    Woodland structure
    Underwood stools
    …Lime, oak and hazel stools probably grow as fast as ash; [field] maple a little faster. Sycamore stools must grow faster, for they can be 10 feet (3 meteres) in diameter, although the tree has been in Britain for only 450 years. (It was fashionalbe in the seventeenth century, and many sycamore planted then, or their children, must still be alive.)
    [Come across a little nugget which I’d like to share:
    Ch. 12: Anicent-woodland plants and other creatures
    Ancient woodland indicators
    Ellenberg indicator values
    …In terms of soil acidity (scale 1 to 9 [not pH]), anicent-woodland plants follow the distribution in general flora, with a peak point at point 7 (‘weakly acid to weakly basic’). This is surprising in view of the acidic tendency of woodland soils (p.198): is this acidity a recent phenomenon to which the flora [ancient woodland plants] has not yet adjusted.]

    Ch. 18: Modern forestry: its rise and fall
    History of plantation forestry
    Eighteenth century
    ..In Scotland the plantation movement made more headway: with plenty of poor land and week tenurial [as in tennancy, tennants, tenure-in more literal sense] customs, landowners could more easily remove land from agriculture. It was dominated by a handful of big lairds……
    Beech was introduced on large scale, also sycamore, though mainly (in reference to sycamore) as a hedgerow and shelter belt-tree. [So not a plantation tree]

    Ch. 22: The recent……
    Grey squirrels are often cited as the greatest menace to ‘woodland’, especially through their habit of pulling the bark of trees, especially, hornbeam and sycamore.
    In a table at the back of the book. Table 1. Properties of trees, that lists properties of: Methods of regeneration- seed, suckers, coppicing, pollarding. Preference of woodland, Palatability [don’t know about that] etc. all other UK trees apart from non-native trees are detailed, and sycamore is not detailed.

    End of quotation.

    I’d love to buy you (seriously), Matt, Woodlands and Illustrated history of the countryside (new edition) . Please look at these links, the author info, the reviews. The rest of his books. Google him etc.

  5. eco88 says:

    Oliver Rackham, Illustrated History of the Countryside 1986, 2000 edition:
    [Animals and plants: Extinctions and new arrivals
    Sycamore, is a native of central Europe. With us it is an aggressive tree, successfully forming secondary woodland and invading native woods. In its homeland it is rather local and lives peacably with its nighbours in native vegetation. The romantic “Ahornboden”, Sycamore Flats, lie in recesses of the Karwendel mountains behind Innsbruck; they are not unlike English parks, grasslands grazed by cattle and scattered with ancient mossy lichen-hung trees; but the great trees here are sycamores, and (instead of a park pale) 3000-foot precipices of grey dolomite soar into the snow.
    The oft-repeated statement that the Romans introduced sycamore is based on no evidence. It is first definitely mentioned in Lyte’s Herball (1578) but only as a garden tree; in 1635a garden in St Keyne (south-east Cornwall) had ‘fourteen sickumers in the herb garden’. Evelyn in 1679 advised that it ‘be banish’d from all curious (italics Gardens and Avenues’) on account of its honeydew, but in spite of the great man’s disapproval it grew in popularity and began to be planted away from houses. In the 1670s William Windham I (as in 1st) set it in a plantation at Felbrigg (Norfolk); and two sycamores are mentioned among hedgerow trees at Bardwell (West Suffolk) in 1730. In Cornwall, a survey in 1727-9 of trees in churchyards and glebe-land names sycamore as the third commonest species, half the sycamores being recorded as newly planted.
    Sycamore is difficult to destroy, and most of the trees ever successfully planted must still be alive, at least as coppice stools. Although the tree did not become universally fashionable until the late eighteenth century, earlier introductions would account for the big stools, up to 6 feet across, occasionally to be found in woods (edit: more so today). Once put in a wood sycamore multiplies and spreads at the expense of native trees; its saplings can live for many years in the shade – which few indigenous trees can do – and then take over the wood at the next felling. It also easily forms secondary woodland, especially on sites of industries. Its two enemies, the grey squirrel and sooty bark disease (caused by the fungus Cryptostroma corticale), spoil the tree as timeber without exterminating it. Most conservationists disapprove of sycamore, which is supposed to be a poor habitat for wildlife and has a heavy shade and dense leaf-litter, and spend much time trying to kill it. Although it is cheifly a menace in Wales and western England, it is a tree which no responsibl person should plant without carefully considering th long-term consequnces. (section ended, and no parts missing).

    Collins Gem (pocket guide) Trees (1980) 2004 ed.
    ….A native tree of central and northern European mountains, it is introduced into Britain where it has become an essential part of th British scene and is often the most vigorous tree in upland areas. Ecologically it somewhat resembles Ash.

    I don’t have the material to quote from to tell you this: sycamore is poor timber and poor wood compared to other big British trees. Yes the qualities of all wood and timber is different, but sycamore is overall very poor. It’s wood qualites for faggots, rods, poles etc. is again comparitively poor overall. It can be tapped for sap. It supports less a relativly low no. of species around 70. Oak is over 300, and the no. descend from this amount as you go down the trees. I think it may not be a good medium to grow mushrooms out of/from. I think I can recall and I’m happy to say that it’s postive affects on soil, it’s fertility is poor compared to…..

    Paths, well that’s another post.

  6. eco88 says:

    I hope:
    a very wide variety of (non-colonising) indigenous UK (non-scrubland and non-heathland) shrubs and trees are planted. So Hornbeam, Wildservice tree, Bird or Wild Cherry, East England Elms, Small-leaved Lime, Whitebeam, Buckthorn, Spindle. Actually as this site is near the Fens, then Alder Buckthorn, a variety of Willows, Alder (by wet ground obviously), Aspen, and as many other trees as can be viably grown as part of the system. Swales are dug,
    Sycamore trees removed with a plan to do so regularly, and Interpretation and Information boards are placed by all entrances and bins too which are emptied regularly by Rangers Perhaps some Conservation Grazing in compartments to increase biodiversity.
    And Coppicing of Hazel and Willow increase biodiversity. So perhaps a local Coppicing and Woodland and Wildlife group with a twice yearly Charcoal burn, with on site tented groups. Deciduous UK charcoal is far superior to that which is imported to the UK.
    Ideally if we could cut all importation and have local Coppicing groups providing much of our Charcoal, with Eco wood businesses, (ie. woodsman) providing most of the rest.
    Do as much as you can to draw in birds and bats. Ensure that only planned paths are used, and that these have small ditches by them to prevent saturation and people making their own paths.

    • Dan Lowe says:

      Leave the poor sycamores alone, and concentrate on increasing the total wooded area. Also stop worrying about where people walk, woods should be places to get away from the authoritarian do this but not that, walk here but not there, nature of modern living.

    • Matt Heybyrne says:

      eco88 – Why do you want to remove Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)? There is no evidence to suggest that this species is native or non-native, it also supports a massive array of native taxonomy more so then half the list you mentioned. Trust me I have a 10,000 word dissertation on Sycamore, which i will be happy to email to you. Regards Matthew Heybyrne BSc (Hons) Forestry & Woodland Management

  7. mercadeo says:

    Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT) is a charity set up following Peterborough’s designation as a UK Environment City in 1992. PECT carries out research and implements practical projects to protect and improve the environment. Our mission at PECT is to lead and support the city in delivering growth and regeneration in a truly environmentally sustainable way. As a successful charity we work with a wide variety of stakeholders to make a difference for our environment – through innovation, enterprise and commitment to action on the ground. PECT has a strong track record of delivering projects of regional and national significance. It has a staff of 35 working on initiatives from green spaces to business environmental management to sustainable communities and lifestyles.

  8. Pingback: 170k trees to be planted in the city …… this a realistic target? « Darren Fower

  9. Pingback: 170k trees to be planted in the city this a realistic target? | Peterborough City Council |

  10. I found your site on Google and read a few of your other entires. Nice Stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Kay Haw says:

      Hello Margaret, I am really pleased you are enjoying the blog! I we continue to capture your interest. Best wishes.

    • Kay Haw says:

      Hello Margaret, I am really pleased you are enjoying the blog! I hope we continue to capture your interest. Best wishes.

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