Great Ouse Valley Trust unveils riverside tree plan

The Great Ouse Valley Trust has launched a tree planting project

The Great Ouse Valley Trust has launched a tree planting project - Credit: Archant

A major new tree planting initiative has been launched in Huntingdonshire.

The project, which will see the introduction of new trees on the commons between Huntingdon, Godmanchester and Hemingford Abbots, brings together the Great Ouse Valley Trust, the Freemen of Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire District Council and the Godmanchester Pollarding Society.

The Great Ouse Valley Trust said it was “delighted” to announce the start of the scheme following a series of trial plantings.

A spokesman said: “The new landscape enhancement project will further improve the beautiful Ouse Valley meadows. The main aims are to restore many of the ancient willows, plant many new willows on the banks of the watercourses, plant new black poplars and reinstate lost hedgerows.

“This year the Trust has experimented by planting two willow pollards along the bank of Cook’s Stream on Westside Common.

“The pollards have come from the white willows which were planted a few years ago as a project between Godmanchester Town Council, the Pollarding Association and Godmanchester Community Association.”

The spokesman said: “With lessons learnt from these trial plantings it is hoped that the full landscape can begin next winter. Consultations are now ongoing with all the stakeholders and the trust will also be engaging with the Environment Agency, the Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust.”

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The spokesman added: “The Great Ouse Valley Trust aims to promote, protect and enhance this special place for future generations.

“With Huntingdonshire District Council and the Freemen of Godmanchester, we hope this project will bring even more attention to the special benefits of the Great Ouse valley.”

The Trust said that up to little more than a century ago the banks of the River Great Ouse, Cook’s Stream and other waterways on the flood plain would have been lined with willows, black poplars and mature hedgerows.

But the First World War led to a halt in normal pollarding because of a shortage of manpower and many of the traditional rural crafts did not pick up again after the conflict, leaving ancient willows to fall into decay and hedgerows being removed.

The rust said the project would build on the planting of new oaks at Eastside Common by the freemen in the 1980s and a plan in the 1990s by the district council to replace decaying ancient willows which was later axed on funding grounds.