Trees and nature conservation

From the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest, to flocks of thousands of golden plover wintering on the wetlands of the Trent Valley, our district has a unique biodiversity.

The Council helps to protect and promote our wildlife in a number of ways, from planting trees to managing the areas parks and gardens.

This page contains help and advice on planting trees and gardening for wildlife. Find out more about protecting trees and hedgerows.

Planting for the future

We’re currently undertaking an ambitious tree planting programme - and we need your help.

In July 2019, we joined other local authorities across the country in declaring a climate emergency and in doing so, we’ve pledged to work towards developing measures to offset global warming. One of our actions is to increase the number of trees in the district, making our communities more attractive, greener and healthier places to live and work.

Trees are vital in the fight against climate change. They help by:

•    absorbing carbon dioxide

•    improving air quality

•    cooling the warming planet

•    fighting flooding

•    nurturing wildlife

•    making landscapes more resilient

Over the next five years, more than 10,000 trees will be planted across the district.

A new wood at Vicar Water Country Park has been created on the Vicardale site as part of this pledge.

Two free trees for residents

Every autumn, we invite local residents to apply for two free trees to plant in their gardens. The trees are called ‘whips’ which means they are small, newly grown trees and therefore very easy to plant. An information leaflet with planting and care instructions is provided to residents.

The tree choices this year are:

  • Goat Willow - a rounded small deciduous tree growing up to 10m. It supports lots of wildlife including butterflies and bees. Decorative fluffy buds and yellow catkins appear in the spring and it’s an easy to grow, low maintenance tree for any garden.
  • Wild Cherry - a pretty, medium-sized native tree with beautiful spring blossom and a bounty of colourful fruits later in the year. Mature trees can grow up to 30m and in spring they produce clusters of white flowers. Leaves turn orange and red in autumn and it’s a very useful tree for birds and other garden wildlife.

Due to the unseasonably mild winter this year, the trees did not lose their leaves and go dormant as early as they normally would. As a result, we’ve had to move the giveaway to January. We will be in touch soon to let you know when your tree is available to be picked up and these will be available from four locations around the district – Newark, Southwell, Ollerton and Clipstone.

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.

The application form for two free trees is now closed.

Collection points and times for the free trees scheme are as follows:

Friday 20 January - Sconce and Devon Park, Newark - 10am to 2pm

Friday 20 January - Sconce and Devon Park, Newark - 4pm to 6pm

Friday 20 January - Vicar Water Country Park, Clipstone - 10am to 2pm

Saturday 21 January - Sherwood Heath, Ollerton - 2pm to 4pm

Saturday 21 January - Southwell Market - 10am to 2pm

Saturday 21 January - Vicar Water Country Park, Clipstone - 10am to 12pm

Free trees for parish councils, schools and community groups

Free tree packs are also available every spring for parish councils, schools and community groups. We choose trees with great wildlife value including hawthorn, blackthorn, grey willow, crab apple and rowan.

Check back for updates for the free tree giveaway for 2023.

Trees for Climate

Trees for Climate is a five-year woodland creation programme for larger planting schemes.

In Nottinghamshire the programme is delivered by Greenwood Community Forest and the Sherwood Forest Trust.

Are you a landowner, farmer or school with land suitable for planting trees?

The Trees for Climate programme offers flexible and competitive grants. It is versatile and can support schemes from 0.2ha (this equates to an area 20m x 100m) up to full woodland creation of several hectares. Hedgerows with trees can be created to enhance connectivity and low-density planting, orchards and mixed woodlands are all acceptable.

Local experts can offer free support to plant, grow and manage your new woodland.

Why plant trees?

Creating new woodlands is a proven way to help tackle the effects of climate change.

Trees can enhance your land and business by:

  • Diversifying your business and generating income
  • Sheltering crops and livestock
  • Cutting pollution
  • Improving soil, water and air quality
  • Supporting pollinators
  • Providing habitats for wildlife
  • Reducing flooding, water flow and soil erosion
  • Providing fruits and nuts

The scheme offers:

  • A bespoke service that includes visiting you on site to talk though your project and assess your land.
  • A friendly local team with years of tree-planting experience, who will help to keep the process as simple as possible.
  • Funding available within the Newark and Sherwood district.  
  • Grants of up to 100% of the costs of tree-planting, including fencing, tree- guards, stakes etc.
  • A funded, ongoing maintenance plan for up to 15 years to ensure success.

Download the Trees for Climate Landowner Information Pack

Complete the Trees for Climate expression of interest form if you are interested in creating a woodland.

Choosing and planting trees

It’s important to consider what you want from the trees you plant before you choose them. Planting is best done between October and April.

If you want your tree to be good for wildlife, native species are usually best. Trees which provide fruit and nuts are also good. And if you want your tree to look pretty, choose one which has flowers or colourful fruit or leaves.

Find out more about choosing trees for wildlife on the RSPB website.

Not all trees will be happy in your grounds, so you'll need to look at what type of trees grow well in your area. What are your grounds like? If the soil is hard or dry, then maybe trees from hotter countries might feel more at home such as a cherry. Some trees such as willow and alder thrive in wetter areas.

Find out about native British trees from the Woodland Trust.

Size and planting position is crucial and there is a tree for every situation including a planter on a patio, small garden, large garden, hedge or hillside. Small tress are usually cheaper than larger trees and take less time to establish

You also need to think about how tall and wide your tree will be when it's fully grown. Will the roots and branches damage any nearby buildings or paths? And think about whether falling leaves or fruit will cause an issue.

Find out more about choosing a tree in this video on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website.

Free Trees from the Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust also offers packs of free trees for schools and community groups. They are currently taking applications for trees to be delivered in March 2023. You need to be a school or official organisation and you must be willing to take on the planning, planting and care of the tree saplings. The packs come with canes and spiral tree guards to protect the young trees from rabbits. The saplings are 20-60cm tall and this makes them easy to plant by children and families.

Find out more from the Woodland Trust