Volunteer planting efforts began this week at the University of Leeds' new research woodland, Gair Wood.
Approximately 66,000 trees are due to be planted at the Gair Wood site in January and February 2023, with around 10% being planted by local volunteers. While the majority of planting will be conducted by professional contractors, some areas of Gair Wood will be experimentally planted with different regionally appropriate species mixes and this requires a slower, more methodical approach.
Volunteer planting allows accurate records to be kept of exactly which species are planted and where (using marked and GPS tagged grids across the site). Researchers will direct volunteers to plant either a single species or a specified mixture of species within each 10x10 metre grid on site, while making sure that all that data is recorded accurately so that it can inform long-term research strategies.
Planting different levels of seedling diversity will allow researchers to study the ways that different species interact and the strategies and speed with which those species grow. Likewise, planting seedlings at different densities in the experimental plots will produce data to inform future woodland planting strategies based on the way that they grow and interact with one another.
We are grateful to all the volunteers who have already played a part in creating this new woodland and for all those who have signed up to join us in the coming weeks as we continue to plant our seedlings (pictured above).
Thanks to the efforts of local volunteers, Gair Wood will be able to play a part in answering the big questions in biodiversity, carbon, and climate for decades to come!