Volunteers from Lechlade, Oxon, Reading & Swindon help environment project at Blue Cross centre
Lucy Staveley, who grew up in Lechlade, but now lives in Fulbrook near Burford with her husband, Toby and four children, Sam, Otto, Georgia and Ellie, has always been involved in conservation projects and wanted to do something locally to restore nature in the Burford area.
So Lucy and the Burford Tree Initiative that Lucy started in 2019 has embarked on planting over 1,300 trees and 3,700 hedging plants at the Blue Cross animal re-homing centre near Burford; together with two community orchards in Burford and several hundred meters of hedgerow on local farms.
The initiative, which started in November just before National Tree Week, is being funded by the International Tree Foundation and the Bouttell Bequest together with several other partners including I Dig Trees. The plants have all been bought from Murray Maclean in Frilford, a wholesale tree and hedging specialist. It was also part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Initiative, and the group were thrilled to welcome HRH Duke of Gloucester to plant the inaugural apple tree in the community orchard on the recreation ground in Burford.
As well as leading the Burford Tree Initiative, Lucy is also an Oxfordshire Tree Champion, a trustee with the Wychwood Forest Trust, belongs to Oxfordshire-based tree network ‘Trees collaborate’ and is a member of the Burford Environmental Action Group (BEagles). She also recently started a community interest company, ‘Nature and Nurture Activities’ to fundraise and further the aims of community environmental projects in the Burford area.
Explaining why the initiative was supporting the Blue Cross charity, Lucy said: “The Blue Cross has a large number of paddocks and fields and were looking to increase tree cover for their horses and to connect up the landscape with hedgerows. It’s a lovely site with plenty of wildlife.”
The initiative has had a lot of support with committed volunteers from the local area and further afield including Burford Primary School, Burford Secondary School, students from Hartpury University, a learning disability group, and local community group Green Fifield.
Another volunteer group helping with the environmental work were around a dozen Muslim women and their children from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association. A spokesperson for the Association said: “Lajna Ima’illah, one of our auxiliary organisations, is celebrating 100 years since its establishment and, to mark this special centenary and also to help conserve our beautiful planet, the women of Lajna UK have pledged to plant 100,000 trees. Our members have been taking part in tree planting projects across the UK and ladies from Oxfordshire, Reading and Swindon collaborated to plant trees in Burford.”
One of the volunteers, Ann O’Hara from Kempsford said: “My husband Bob and I were really impressed that there was a local initiative actively led to make a real difference. We were delighted to be able to help in a small way.”
“The experience of the volunteers has ranged from those with lots of tree planting experience to those with none at all,” said Lucy. “But all have been enthusiastic and together make real progress. No experience is needed, just bring a spade – if you have one – and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.”