Planting Scots pine at Escrick Park Estate

I spent five days last week planting trees near York on the Escrick Park Estate as part of my college course. We – about twelve students and three instructors – planted 6,000 three-year old Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris) over three hectares. The trees were nursery-grown 2+1s, meaning that they had spent two years in the ground (2) before being lifted, replanted, and grown on in the ground for another year (+1).

According to the forestry guru, our newly created Scots pine plantation should soon be putting on growth at a rate of about 18 tons / tonnes per ha per year. In twenty years’ time about 35% of the trees will be thinned out: 20% by removing every fifth row and 15% by general thinning to leave the best trees growing. Further thinnings will be carried out every five years until the stand is fifty years old, when the trees will be left without thinning for twenty years until the final harvest takes places - seventy years from now. The density of the stand at harvest will be about 100 trees per ha – quite a change from the planting density of 2,000 trees per ha.

To achieve the desired planting density we planted each tree 2.2 metres apart. The trees were planted in perfect straight rows in one direction, but the first trees in each row were staggered. This should ensure that anyone walking or driving along the road that runs along one edge of the site… if they look towards the stand (perpendicular to the straight rows), they will see apparently randomly-planted trees. It’s all about being efficient and aesthetically pleasing at the same time.

The above photo shows a typical tree, with my boot for scale. The planting process was real simple: dig a bastard pit with the shovel (a slit in the ground, not a real pit – hence the name), pop in the tree (making sure the roots are all in order), stamp down the soil around the tree (to remove any air pockets where standing water may gather and freeze), stick a cane into the ground either side of the tree, and slide on a tree guard. The guards will protect the young trees when the site is sprayed to suppress weed growth, probably three times a year.

We mainly worked in pairs, one person digging the pits and planting the trees and the other putting on the tree guards. A ten-yard buffer zone was left around the site margin for wildlife.

This was my first taste of forestry planting. I found it monotonous but rewarding. On average, we each planted less than 500 trees over five days (not full days, mind). A pro planter would expect to plant 800 trees a day!

A large oak in an adjoining stand of young deciduous trees.

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This month’s Festival of the Trees – the forty-second edition, Seven Billion New Trees – has been up for a week over at Via Negativa. It was put together by Dave Bonta, one of the Festival’s co-founders. Go read!

Next month’s festival – the first of the new year – will be hosted by Jason Hogle at xenogere. You know what to do… show him some tree love!

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Sylvan Miscellany

To say it’s in the middle of a service station carpark, the tree at Scotch Corner is mighty impressive.

A log keeps you warm twice: once when you cut it and once when you burn it.

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The Nature Conservancy’s Top 5 Eco-Friendly Holiday Gifts:

Adopt an acre.
Plant trees in the Atlantic Forest. Each tree is just $1.
Adopt a coral reef.
Help save the northern jaguar.
Give the gift of clean water.

Posted in Miscellany

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