Land Manager's Diary: Read it here>

We are getting towards the end of the planting season now so today was a last chance to plant some more of our stock of trees at High Borrowdale. We have been so busy planting the new 420m long hedge and adding 2500 upland hay meadow plants that we have not been able to fit in tree planting since January.

The trees have been patiently waiting, heeled in at our ‘nursery’ – a small sheep proof area at High Borrowdale. It was fantastic that the volunteers were joined by the apprentice team from the Westmorland Dales Scheme, always keen to help us out.

Planting trees has become increasingly popular, trees often being seen as the simple solution to climate change. Whilst they can undoubtedly help, there is nothing more true than the phrase ‘right tree in the right place’. 20 years ago we thought the right place was High Borrowdale. Our trees have had so much management and attention, we jokingly say we have sung to them, hugged them and even offered them cake… But despite all the care and love, conditions seem to work against high success rates and growth.

We have concluded this is due to a whole host of factors that just happen to come together in one place – high rainfall, poor soils, high deer numbers, high vole numbers and strong winds. Whilst one or two factors could be surmountable, when they all come together for a lot of the time, it is tough. The new trees at Dam Mire Wood have only been in a couple of years but growth rates are dramatically different. But we continue to try and add all our experience to our pot of learning. This is part of the benefit of being a policy led organisation that also tries to practice what we preach on our own land. In theory we all thought we had a good place for tree planting that would give us benefits for the landscape, wildlife and nature, soil stabilisation and slow the flow.

In reality, we need to learn from experience, that this kind of terrain and valley is perhaps not the right place, and when we see applications for similar planting in similar conditions, perhaps we need to reflect on whether this is a good use of money. That said, we are committed to establishing more trees in this beautiful valley. We are achieving results, albeit it at a very slow rate.