Shropshire Star

Conservation project plants thousands of trees to protect Shropshire Hills

National Trust volunteers have planted more than 2,000 native trees at Belmore Farm on the Shropshire Hills as part of a major conservation project.

Belmore Farm with the new trees

Stepping Stones is a landscape-scale nature conservation project which aims to improve the area for wildlife by restoring areas of habitat, and linking them together to create ‘wildlife corridors’, across the Long Mynd and Stiperstones.

Elder, holly, hawthorn and rowan were some of the wildlife-friendly saplings that were planted at the site near Ratlinghope. In time, the trees will provide nectar, berries and shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Once matured, the trees will create a wide corridor of scrub and thicket which will help connect the Long Mynd with other important areas for wildlife. These ‘wildlife corridors’ will link up areas of isolated habitat and help wildlife to move through the landscape.

Charlie Bell, Stepping Stones project officer, said: “Over the past century the area has lost many of its hedgerows and in-field trees, due to changing agricultural practices.

Belmore Farm tree planting

"This has meant that existing patches of woodland have become cut off from each other, and species like dormice, which rely on hedgerows to move through the landscape, have declined.

"There has also been a reduction in areas of scrub and thicket, which provide excellent breeding habitat for songbirds.

“By planting these long strips of native woodland, which are essentially very wide hedgerows, we will not only create some new habitat but will help to link up existing patches of habitat.

"This will benefit many species including migratory birds such as fieldfare and redwing, many invertebrates, and might even help encourage dormice back to this part of the Shropshire hills.”

Peter Carty, countryside manager, added: “This woodland has been planted in such a way as to enhance and strengthen the network of woodland habitat in the area. This is nature recovery put into practise and it will in time enhance the natural beauty of the landscape for all to enjoy.”

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