Is couple’s woodland the country’s best?

Sarah is pictured fourth from left with the Forest of Bowland AONB Unit.
Sarah is pictured fourth from left with the Forest of Bowland AONB Unit.

A newly created woodland in the Ribble Valley is in the running to be named the UK’s best.

The Woodland Trust has shortlisted Phil and Sarah Lynas’s smallholding at Bolton-by-Bowland in its quest to find the best wood created under its MOREwoods project.

The couple planted 700 trees last December after signing up to the scheme. They were joined over a number of days by friends and family, the Friends of Bowland volunteer group and staff from the local Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty office.

Sarah said: “It was fabulous to see how genuinely each and every person enjoyed being part of creating new woodland and got stuck into each task involved. There were a few emotional moments as we realised exactly what it was that we stood at the very start of and thought about the legacy we are all now part of; very humbling.”

The woods will create diverse habitat for wildlife as well offering shade for the couple’s hens and alpacas and privacy and shelter for a glamping site they are developing later this year.

Since December nearly 4,000 hedge plants have been put in around paddock boundaries with more planned for next winter.

Sarah added: “Two years on from beginning to plan our woods I still get a lump in my throat to think of what we’ve achieved and how staggeringly important it is to create these spaces. Second only to raising my son, Oliver, who is now 11, our MOREwoods scheme is the legacy I’m most proud of in my life.”

Twenty other sites across the country are in the running for the title.

The winner, who will receive a professional photoshoot in their wood and a wooden bench or sculpture to the value of £500, will be decided by BBC Countryfile Diaries presenter Paul Martin, Woodland Trust Chief Executive Beccy Speight and Director of Woodland Creation John Tucker and announced in July.

Since it started in 2010, MOREwoods has seen the creation of more than 1,500 hectares of woodland and the planting of more than two million trees across the UK.

Anyone who wishes to plant a minimum half a hectare of their land (1.25 acres) can sign up to MOREwoods. The Woodland Trust offers expert advice and guidance on creating native woodland and can provide the best species mix for each site. The Trust will also contribute up to 60 per cent of the set up costs and for larger sites of a hectare or more can arrange to plant the trees as well.

MOREwoods is supported by Dorset Cereals. As well as helping to create woodland across the UK, bringing huge benefits to people and wildlife, the company has also planted 1,000 trees close to its headquarters in Poundbury, Dorset, with 100 of its staff.

Commercial gas supplier CNG also supports the MOREwoods project. It has funded trees on the land of a North Yorkshire landowner which commemorated the lives of those who lived and served in the First World War from the area. CNG also funds the Woodland Trust’s ancient woodland restoration.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has more than 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife. Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering over 22,500 hectares.