Woodland Trust searching for jubilee wood site

Woodland (Image: BBC) The ambitious 500-acre woodland would take three or four years to complete

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The Woodland Trust is searching for a 500-acre site to plant half-a-million trees in a flagship woodland that will celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The ideal location would be an accessible location near a large population, a spokeswoman said.

The team hoped to begin planting trees on the chosen site in the autumn.

As well as planting the jubilee wood, the trust is also looking for volunteer hosts for a further 59 60-acre "diamond woods" across the UK.

"While the jubilee wood is going to be a national, living monument to the Queen, we also want it to be used and enjoyed by people," explained Georgina Mcleod, the trust's head of jubilee woods.

She added that apart from the site being near to people, accessible and suitable for woodland creation, there were very few criteria.

"As we will be buying this site, we do not mind who we buy it from - a local authority, private landowner, whoever - as long as we can afford it," Ms Mcleod told BBC News.

The 500-acre (200ha) project is earmarked to cost in the region of £5m, she estimated.

"This includes buying the land, planting the trees and other logistics too, such as putting in footpaths and engaging the local community.

"The total will also pay for some sort of jubilee interpretation; how do we make this site really, really special? How do we make it somewhere that people want to visit and will be a memorable legacy to the Queen."

An estimated 500,000 trees will be planted over a three-to-four year period. They will be primarily native broadleaf species, such as ash, oak, rowan, birch and hornbeam.

60-60 vision

The Woodland Trust is also looking to establish a further 59 smaller woodlands to complement the large, flagship one.

"This is where there might be local authorities or landowners who would want to host one of these. We are going to create the huge 500-acre one, and we want 59 other locations to create a 60-acre (24ha) woodland each," Ms Mcleod explained.

She said that they had about 20 sites confirmed and were still looking for more offers.

On a smaller scale still, Ms Mcleod explained that the trust would be giving away free tree planting packs to local communities that wanted to establish a wooded area to commemorate the jubilee. In total, the project was looking to plant six million trees.

The project is thought to be the first of its kind. However, a committee was established to oversee tree-planting to mark the coronation of King George VI in 1936.

A 642-page book was published in 1939 that listed the location and species of every single tree that was planted, not just in the UK but in other parts of the British Empire.

Ms Mcleod explained that the Queen Mother was the patron of the 1936 campaign, and that Princess Anne had agreed to follow in her grandmother's footsteps and be the patron of the 2012 jubilee project.

The tree-planting is expected to get under way from November, when this year's planting season would normally start.

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