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It was apt that during National Tree Week, the volunteers were out in force at Gillside and Tongue Gill Woods at Grasmere, the woods we manage for Friends of the Lake District members Bev and Jo Dennison*. 

Pictured: Atmospheric view at Gillside Wood

Since 1973, National Tree Week has been the U.K.’s largest tree celebration, which takes place during week in November, this year from around November 25/27 to December 5. National Tree Week kicks off the annual winter tree-planting season, and encourages people to plant trees and appreciate the beauty and importance of trees in our environment and life. As we know, trees can help store carbon, provide valuable habitats, slow the flow of water, enhance our landscapes but also are key to our mental health and wellbeing.

Pictured: Crab Apple thriving at Gillside

But, every week there seems to be a new tree disease threatening our glorious woodland. Did you know that there is even a disease affecting Christmas trees – Ips typographus. Luckily spruce Christmas trees are considered to be at low risk to Ips typographus, the eight-toothed spruce bark beetle, as the majority sold will be small and healthy trees, whereas Ips typographus prefers to infest dying and stressed spruce trees that are greater than 8cm in diameter. We all have to remain vigilant for the increasing number of diseases threatening to kill off our beloved trees. Our landscapes would be so much poorer without them, as well as all the positive impacts above. 

Pictured: Tree tube removal at Gillside

So it is always a delight to be back in Gillside and Tongue Gill woods, perhaps one of the greenest valleys in Lakeland with its native woods and hydro electric power scheme. We were joined by a big gang of 9 to continue our mammoth task of removing tree tubes. 

Pictured: Tubes removed for recycling

It was great to be joined by people from the Field Studies Council, Environment Agency and RSPB. Don’t forget if your employer gives you the chance to have ‘give back days’ to work with local conservation charities, we would love to have you. Our pile of tubes for recycling is growing and growing, but along the day we found birds nests in tubes, and patterns made by the tree roots growing upwards in the tubes. 

Pictured: View to Steel Fell

Next week is our last workparty of 2023, dry stone walling at Mazonwath. Join us if you enjoy walling, mince pies and mulled wine! You can book online here> 

Use of Plastic Tree Guards: We are no longer buying new plastic tree guards but re-using from our current stock. Our approach is to re-use from our existing stock and recycle excess stock while we await the outcome of current trials of non-plastic tree tubes which look very promising. When we next add to our stock of tree tubes, our intention is to adopt a more environmentally friendly solution. 

*Jo and Bev Dennison were recently featured in a short film, one of a series entitled ‘Meet the Generators’ celebrating a number of Good Energy’s network of 1,700 businesses, non-profits and communities which supply it with power. Their hydroelectricity generator at Gillside near Grasmere produces more than 450MWh of renewable electricity each year, enough to supply 150 homes.