The Woodland Trust's Jubilee Woods project takes root in Yorkshire

PUBLISHED: 22:11 30 May 2012 | UPDATED: 15:35 21 November 2017

Elizabeth Heaps, Gordon Eastham and Alistair Crosby on site at York University

Elizabeth Heaps, Gordon Eastham and Alistair Crosby on site at York University

A charity's Jubilee Woods project takes root in Yorkshire as Hayley Broad reports

Princess Anne launched the project last year by planting a tree at Burghley House Photograph by Andy TrynerPrincess Anne launched the project last year by planting a tree at Burghley House Photograph by Andy Tryner

Long after the flotilla on the Thames has sailed by and the cake has all been eaten, another very special kind of tribute will remain to commemorate the Queen’s 2012 Diamond Jubilee. This year, the Woodland Trust is creating a living, growing monument to celebrate the historic occasion by changing the country’s landscape in a generation, planting millions of trees and hundreds of new woods as a meaningful and lasting celebration through its Jubilee Woods project.

The woodland conservation charity hopes to plant six million trees and involve around one million people this year through Jubilee Woods – which has the Queen’s support and the Princess Royal as patron.

As part of this mammoth project, the trust is helping people plant hundreds of Jubilee woods of between one and 20 acres in size, plus 60 special Diamond woods of 60 acres to commemorate each year of the Queen’s reign, as well as giving away thousands of packs of free trees to schools and community groups.

The UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe with just 13 per cent woodland cover compared to a European average of 44 per cent - much of our native woodland has been cut down for timber production and lost to development , so planting new woods and trees is vital for our landscape, our wildlife, and us.

Television presenter Dermot O’Leary plants the millionth tree at London Zoo
 Photograph by Carlos Reyes-ManzoTelevision presenter Dermot O’Leary plants the millionth tree at London Zoo Photograph by Carlos Reyes-Manzo

Yorkshire ranks low in terms of tree cover, with less than six per cent of the county covered in trees - the English average is 10 per cent. One organisation helping to improve their local landscape is the University of York which is planting a Diamond wood at the university’s new Heslington East campus at Kimberlow. It will form a living, lasting legacy commemorating the Queen’s reign, and will provide an invaluable natural asset for the people of York to enjoy for generations to come.

The university’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Estates and Strategic Projects, Elizabeth Heaps, said: ‘It is a great honour to have been chosen to create a Diamond wood in Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee year. We are working with colleagues at the Woodland Trust to create something very special which we believe will provide a fabulous local resource, helping to inspire a love of trees and woods.’

Planting at the university is already underway, with over 16,000 trees in the ground so far; all native British trees including oak, ash, hornbeam, field maple, wild cherry and crab apple.

Jubilee Woods project head at the Woodland Trust, Georgina McLeod, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that the University of York has chosen to create a prestigious Diamond Wood. We very much hope that this inspires other landowners and communities to join us in paying a very special tribute to the Queen, while at the same time creating something living and lasting to hand on to future generations.’

There’s plenty of other Jubilee activity happening in Yorkshire, with 672 schools and 223 communities planting a total of 895 tree packs. That amounts to over 100,000 newly planted trees for the county through free tree packs alone.

Georgina McLeod added: ‘Not only is this a chance to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but it’s also a chance for people to improve their local environment and create somewhere for them to enjoy and be part of. In just 10 years, trees planted now will be taller than the average person and the new woodland will be teeming with wildlife to enjoy.’

The trust is still looking for landowners to take part in the Jubilee Woods project and is offering help, advice and in some cases funding, to people who want to take their place in history and create one of these special sites. Even planting a single tree in your garden is a great way to take part in the project, offering the opportunity to register in the project’s Royal Record.

The Royal Record is a log of all the trees planted as part of this special commemorative project, and harks back to a book created when thousands of trees were planted throughout the country to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1936.

The Woodland Trust discovered this original Royal Record and has digitised it on its website to make it searchable online. Anyone can visit the site and search for trees that were planted in their area for the coronation and see if they’re still standing. Bound copies of the new Royal Record detailing everything planted for the Jubilee project will be handed to the Queen and the British Library, so everyone who gets involved and plants trees will truly be taking their place in history.

The Queen and the Princess Royal have taken part in the Jubilee Woods project. Princess Anne launched the project last year by planting a tree at Burghley House and the Queen planted a tree in February this year – the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne - on her Sandringham estate in Norfolk where she is also planting a Jubilee Wood.

The trust celebrated the month when the Queen took to the throne by planting one million trees Television presenter Dermot O’Leary planted the millionth tree at London Zoo. The WoodlandTrust wants to double the UK’s native woodland cover over the next 50 years and to do this it needs the backing of the British public.

To find out more or apply for a free Jubilee Tree pack go to

The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012  issue of Yorkshire Life 

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