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Shaftesbury Tree Group

This Project Page is awaiting an update

Shaftesbury Tree Group prepared The Town Tree Plan for 2020-25, which was presented to Shaftesbury Town Council in February 2020. The council greatly appreciated our work and approved the plan with a budget for 5 years. We aimed to start planting in winter 2020/21.

If you are interested in taking part, do let us know by emailing

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Shaftesbury Town Tree Plan 2020-2025 (as at autumn 2021)

Shaftesbury's Trees - what we have inherited

We are fortunate in Shaftesbury to have fairly good tree cover, though this is uneven, the most treed areas being in the old part of town. Forestry Commission data shows that Shaftesbury West Ward has an estimated tree canopy cover of 22.9% (+/- 2.0%), and East Ward with a tree canopy cover of 7.7% (+/-1.5%).


It is not surprising that the significant areas for trees follow the development of Shaftesbury as a town, so the longest inhabited places usually have the oldest and greatest mix of trees, as do the outlying Victorian houses with large gardens and often exotic trees of some stature. Other veteran and indigenous trees tend to be old hedgerow and boundary trees and churchyard yews - such as the Shaston Yew in Bury Litton and the Boundary Oak on the northeastern edge of town by Higher Wincombe.


To redress the imbalance of tree cover, the Woodland Trust propose that 30% of the land in new developments is planted with trees.


The choice of species to plant is important. Most places have mixes of locally typical native trees, along with introduced species. Our aim is to add to the town's local distinctiveness by planting more of the native trees we see around us in the hedgerows, woods and open spaces. The trees such as common alder,  beech, silver and downy birch, blackthorn, crab apple, dogwood, elder, field maple, hawthorn, hazel, holly, English oak, small leaved lime,  spindle, sycamore, wild cherry and yew. We are alert to the changing fortunes of trees - ash is common here but we are unable to plant this owing to ash dieback. 


Some species are adept at coping with difficult situations. For example, street trees need to be more drought, heat and pollution tolerant. We need to be aware of exposure - in windy places, Scots pine and sycamore are among the trees that do well, as with the sycamores along Park Walk. A mix of deciduous and evergreen species such as wild privet, holly and beech can form thick hedges that will help to capture air-born pollutants. Trees such as crab apple, wild cherry, elder, hazel, small leaved lime, oak and willow are particularly good for wildlife providing blossom, berries, nuts, seed and fruits.


There are, of course, places where we cannot or should not plant - such as on ancient monuments and in flower rich verges. We need a succession of planting and age structures.

Responding to the Climate and Ecological Emergency

Trees must be valued in their own right, we love them for their incredible beauty, the wildlife that depend on them, the sense of wellbeing they give us and much more.


They also happen to give us shade and shelter, food, fuel and building materials; they cool our built up areas, improve soils and reduce erosion, stabilise slopes,  reduce flooding, buffer sound, capture pollutants, fix carbon and give out oxygen. Large and old trees are particularly important for supporting wildlife and sequestering carbon. We cannot survive without them.


In Shaftesbury we are keen to plant trees in playgrounds and by park benches to provide shade, hedges as well as trees and hedges along busy roads to reduce the spread of noise and particulates.


Our trees, hedges and open spaces need to connect with surrounding green and wooded areas such as Breach Common, The Wilderness, Boyne Wood, Pensbury Plantation and Brickell’s Cliff and form ways in and out of town, to provide footpaths and corridors for creatures of all kinds.


We are grateful to Shaftesbury Home Grown for providing a nursery for young trees - it has already proved invaluable as a place to heel in saplings that we were unable to plant last winter. We hope that some of our future trees will start their life there. 

Year Two

This is the second year of Shaftesbury Tree Group & Shaftesbury Town Council's Five Year Tree Planting Plan.


In 2020/21 a handful of us planted lengths of hedgerow as well as 80 or so trees at Ash Close, Barton Hill Recreation Ground, Castle Hill, Cockram's Field  and Mampitts Cemetery.


We were unable to make each planting a community event owing the Covid 19 and Lockdowns. This year we hope many more of us can participate.


Planting this winter

We will be planting about 500 trees and hedgerow saplings in 5 of the open spaces owned by the Town Council. The main new area is Wincombe Recreation Ground, where we hope to plant a thick mixed hedge of native species along the entrance to the play area to help reduce the spread of vehicle emissions and noise from the road, and a copse of about 60 native trees on the south eastern boundary. This will help to make this large playing field feel more attractive and also provide berries, nuts and seeds for wildlife.


We will also complete the small amount of planting we were unable to finish last March at Barton Hill, Cockram's Field and Castle Hill.

We need your help

We cannot plant trees for the town but with the town by involving existing community groups and interested individuals.

We are looking for volunteers who will not only help plant trees, but also become Tree Guardians by taking on the responsibility of caring for - watering the trees in dry spells and reporting any damage or vandalism to us.


Experienced and novice planters are welcome as individuals and in groups.  


If you are interested please contact

Tree Plan Year 1

Shaftesbury Town Tree Plan 2020-2025 (as at autumn 2020)

Based on research, liaison, survey, discussion by members of the Shaftesbury Tree Group 2019/2020:  primarily

Angela King (environmentalist),

Robin Walter (forester),

Bernard Ede (landscape architect),

Sue Clifford (environmentalist).

Why we and Shaftesbury need trees and hedges:

The climate crisis we are facing is already leading to rapid degradation of habitats and increasing loss of biodiversity. For selfish and for altruistic reasons we need to play our part in attempting to reverse the collapse of ecosystems.


We are each part of complex webs that reach in and out of our homes and towns. It becomes the responsibility of us all to change our lives to ensure a benign future – this means we must help nature to help us.

One important role we can perform is in encouraging and supporting care for trees – existing trees, new plantings and the free trees that arise around us.

Trees can help ameliorate the effects of climate change and beyond fixing carbon they make our daily lives more amenable and healthier:  creating shade, buffering sound, capturing airborne pollutants, offering shelter from winds, conserving moisture, improving the soil, providing food, homes and pathways for nature.  All of which support local and wider supportive ecosystems which help create beauty and offer us a sense of wellbeing. Large and old trees are particularly important for supporting wild life and sequestering carbon.


Shaftesbury has a rich heritage of trees. But the tree cover is uneven and in some cases of a single age. Our aim is to enrich the tree cover and to help build community knowledge and responsibility along the way.


By playing our part in the return to health of ecosystems and in combatting the climate emergency we intend to:

Increase the tree cover and biodiversity of the town whilst adding to its local distinctiveness.

Aid the cutting of pollution along roadsides, by play areas and gardens.

Providing shade for play areas and by benches.

Increase habitat diversity and ecological richness.

Intensify linkages of greenery in and into town.

Help educate and energise local people into care for trees and in their planting and aftercare.


Objectives are summarised at the head of each area covered.


Anything we can do to help connect ways in and out of town will help wild life to thrive. It is important to link existing tree cover and hedgerows to provide benign corridors: for example to/from - Breach Common, The Wilderness, Boyne Wood, Pensbury Plantation, Brickell’s Cliff.


Areas where people walk and sit, where children play and formal play areas especially need shade and protection from NO2 and particulates from vehicles. Tree cover will become more needed as weather events become more extreme – long spells of heat, prolonged rainfall, high winds,


Biodiversity/ species selection: all the trees and hedgerow plants we have recommended are native and naturalised species. We remain alert to national and international discussion on this.  Trees must be sourced from reputable nurseries who take bio-security seriously and who do not use imported stock. Disease is prevalent because our climate is warming and we have been importing disease with stock. Increasingly we should be growing the trees ourselves.


Out of the 40 open spaces owned/looked after by the Town Council, we have identified 16 for tree and/or hedgerow planting over a period of 5 years.


Year One 2020/21:  we have identified 5 areas  - Barton Hill Recreation Ground, Cockram's Field, play area and football ground, Castle Hill, Ash Close Play Area and Mampitts Cemetery for which  2,017 hedgerow and larger trees will be allocated.. 


There are several areas in the east of town where we should like to have begun work, but they await resolution of issues such as ownership or remedial action.


We are proposing that planting on road verges will not take place until Year 2 (2021-22).


Four Scheduled Monuments must be exempt from tree planting for archaeological protection. There are some spaces and places that do not need additional trees. And there are places for specific discussion. In Allotments trees may not be wanted. Fruit trees, if desired can be planted in subsequent years. The cricket ground has not yet been visited or discussed.

Year One

Planting will take place from November 2020 to March 2021 during suitable weather.


Trees will need to be ordered early, since national demand for trees will be immense.


The idea of collection seed locally will need to be developed and we shall need to locate places to act as our own tree nurseries and to prepare them.  In the autumn of 2020 we hope to encourage the collection of tree seeds, nuts and berries and to establish a Town Tree Nursery where these local specimens can be grown and when established, planted out in our open spaces.

Community Involvement

We cannot plant trees for the town but with the town by involving existing community groups and interested individuals.


We favour the finding and appointment of woodwards and hedgewards - volunteers to take care of locally planted trees and hedgerows by keeping an eye on them and helping the Grounds Team and others to water them in dry spells especially during the first two years. The new Town Tree Nursery will need a group too.


During 2020, prior to autumn and winter planting we should like to organise :

Talks about the importance of trees in the exacerbation of the climate emergency; walks films etc as well as demonstrations of how to plant seeds, to transplant and to plant young trees  and how to organise continued aftercare.

We are grateful to the support of the Town Council staff in the preparation of this project and members of the Shaftesbury Tree Group.


We very much hope that the ROSE Committee can support the Plan in principle and that we can liaise with the Grounds team and others about its implementation.


A Manifesto for Shaftesbury's Trees is being developed.

Report on Tree Planting Progress - March 2021

Karen Wimhurst and Robin Walter planting an oak tree at Castle Hill, Shaftesbury, completes the first year of Shaftesbury Tree Group's 5 year tree planting programme to help make a green future for the town.


With backing and support from Shaftesbury Town Council, 97 trees and 750 hedgerow saplings have recently been planted in 5 of the town’s open spaces - Ash Close, Barton Hill, Castle Hill, Cockram’s Field and Mampitts Cemetery to provide shade, a buffer from wind and road pollution, wildlife habitats and visual amenity. 


This year’s planting has had to be achieved by a handful of people owing to Covid 19 restrictions, It hasn’t been the community process that we had hoped for, but we do now be need help with the after-care of the trees and watering if needed.


Please let us know if you would be willing to help keep watch on the welfare of the trees. 


We are looking for people to take on the task of watering specific trees in dry spells, so if you live close by to any of the open spaces that have newly planted trees and are willing to keep an eye on them and water them, then please get in touch with Shaftesbury Tree Group via Planet Shaftesbury

Tree Map

The large Map shows the planting locations, click on the small map images to download a larger PDF of that area


Please Note: These maps are a work in progress and there may be minor changes depending on tree availability

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Castle Hill Trees

Barton Hill Trees

Ash Close Trees

Cockram's Trees

Mampitts Cemetery Trees

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