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Ecological partnership takes root

Woodland Trust and Sussex Wildlife Trust planting trees at Tunbridge Wells South Waste Water Treatment Works.

Southern Water teamed up with the Woodland Trust and Sussex Wildlife Trust to plant a mini forest of trees at a wastewater treatment works.

A total of 1,400 trees, including rare black poplars, oak, willow and ash, were planted on land at the water company’s Tunbridge Wells South Wastewater Treatment Works on January 26 and 27.

The project will help improve the biodiversity of the area by providing a better habitat for wildlife at the site near Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells.

An army of volunteers from Southern Water and Sussex Wildlife Trust planted the trees on land alongside the River Grom.

The majority of the trees were provided at a discount by the Woodland Trust and the volunteers used spades kindly provided by Southern Water supplier Greenham.

The 150 black poplar trees were provided by Sussex Wildlife Trust.

Fran Southgate, Wetlands Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust, said: “It’s great to work with people who are willing to give up their spare time to create a fantastic sanctuary for rare local wildlife such as otters and the black poplar tree.

“Woodlands like these help to provide valuable services to the local community such as storing floodwater and acting as carbon stores, as well as just helping to make our countryside a more beautiful place to be.”

Luke Everitt, Woodland Creation Adviser with the Woodland Trust, said: “The Woodland Trust is pleased to be involved in this great project with Southern Water which has seen an increase in woodland around this treatment works.

“Although we have planted small whips on the site today, in six years these trees will have grown above our heads and create an important habitat for a variety of species.

“The volunteers all did a great job planting trees and all had an enjoyable day.

“This new woodland will become one of hundreds of others the Woodland Trust is planting to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee this year through our Jubilee Woods Project.

“All across the UK we are creating new woodland to achieve our aim of doubling native woodland cover by 2050.”

GT Fencing supplied the fencing for the site and donated an access gate for free as well as 15 lump hammers that were used to drive supporting stakes into the ground.

Graham Purvis, Southern Water’s Wastewater Quality Manager, helped organise the project.

He said: “We are really grateful to all the volunteers who came and helped us plant the trees and to the Woodland Trust and Sussex Wildlife Trust for providing them.

“Projects like this are a great way of working with partners to deliver something of benefit to the environment.

“Once mature, the trees will provide an enhanced habitat on what was previously an open piece of land, benefiting wildlife.”

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