A sustainable start to the New Year with the District Council

Posted on: Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Enhancing our natural environment and inspiring the next generation to share our love of nature is a vital part of creating a greener future for Newark and Sherwood,  and the District Council has committed to do just that with the return of the Free Tree Scheme for a fifth year and a free bird box giveaway to local primary schools as part of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)’s Big Garden Bird Watch.

The District Council has been reaching out to all local primary schools offering to supply them with one of these fantastic bird boxes ahead of the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, which is being celebrated on 26-28 January 2024, with many responses already! The schools who get involved have also been asked to keep in touch with the Council, sending photos of the birdbox and any wildlife guests it hosts, along with a yearly check in to chat about what they have seen over the seasons.

Sourced from the RSPB, the bird boxes that will be provided by the District Council are made from sustainable, durable timber, so they're safe for birds and have good insulation properties, making them warm in winter and cool in summer. They are designed to have the right dimensions and ventilation that birds need, and only use non-toxic preservatives.

There is still chance to sign up so if your primary school would like to receive a free bird box, please contact matthew.adey@newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk by Friday 22 December.

Residents can also get involved in creating a greener future for the district by signing up to the Free Tree Scheme and taking home two whips of their choice to plant!

Trees are so important to the health of our environment and wildlife. They help to reduce our carbon footprint, improve soil health and are vital for allowing biodiversity to thrive as they act as havens and as a source of food for wildlife.

From now until Wednesday 3 January residents can apply for two tree whips:

Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus)

Hornbeam trees are beautiful, tough and their year-round leaf cover makes them a perfect winter haven for wildlife. Mature trees can reach a height of 30m and live for more than 300 years. Fun facts, in certain areas of Northern France, it was traditional to lay a hornbeam branch at your sweetheart’s door and Romans used hornbeam to make their chariots because of the strength of the wood!

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)

With its silver-white bark the Silver Birch is often a symbol of purity and is favoured by gardeners who want to renew and purify their land for coming year. When mature they can reach 30m in height, forming a light canopy with drooping branches which provide the perfect conditions for grasses, mosses, bluebells, and violets and more to grow. They provide food and habitat for more than 300 insect species and woodpeckers and other hole-nesting birds often nest in the trunk.

Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)

Wild Cherry trees are thought to be one of the UK’s prettiest native trees and can grow up to 30m and live for up to 60 years. The beautiful spring flowers that appear in April provide an early source of pollen for bees and after being pollenated by insects, the flowers develop into cherries that are commonly eaten by birds and mice.

The ‘whips’ are small, bare rooted, newly grown trees and therefore are very easy to plant.  Trees will be distributed on one of two dates in January from four locations around the district.

26th January

  • Sconce and Devon Park – 3pm until 6pm

27th January

  • Southwell Market Place - 9am until 1pm
  • Vicar Water Country Park - 9am until 1pm
  • Sherwood Heath – 1pm until 5pm

Upon collection, residents will be given an information leaflet on how to plant and look after the tree.

Trees will be available on these dates only, so residents are being encouraged to check that they are available on one of these dates or to find someone to collect on their behalf prior to applying.

Households and communities can apply for a free tree through the Newark and Sherwood District Council website now: https://selfservice.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/renderform.aspx?t=303&k=25FDE9008D042D0AB5ECD314E0D52F1068E83EE6

The final day for applying is Wednesday 3 January 2024.

Councillor Emma Oldham, Portfolio Holder for Biodiversity and Environmental Services at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “I hope residents are as excited as I am to hear that the Free Tree Scheme is back for another year! I can’t wait to see how many we can plant this year, to add to the 22,204 trees we have already planted or given away so far in 2023.

“I’m also thrilled to be part of our most recent giveaway working with our local primary schools to provide safe and cosy homes for birds to roost and nest, and whatever other wildlife take a fancy to them! I’m really looking forward to seeing the photos and chatting to teachers and pupils about what they see once their bird box is in place.

“The results from this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch highlighted the vulnerabilities of garden birds, from weather changes to disease. It is so important to encourage and empower our children to understand the importance of helping wildlife and biodiversity thrive, and school grounds are a great place to enable this. Whether it is watching to see which wildlife visit a bird box or taking home a tree whip to plant in the garden, I hope these giveaways in the new year can help show children and young people how fun and rewarding it is to help our local wildlife.”

Any residents that think they may have land suitable for planting trees are encouraged to get in touch with the District Council. You can find out more information here: https://www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/treesandnatureconservation/.