great avon wood

A day of tree planting with Avon Needs Trees

A year or so ago I built the website for a local tree planting and nature restoration charity, Avon Needs Trees.

Since building the website I have been meaning to attend one of their volunteering days, and this week I did just that. The tree-planting day was in Great Avon Wood, a site just out side of Bristol.

Great Avon Wood sits at the heart of two landscapes that are regionally important for nature’s recovery: the Limestone-Link and the southern border of the Dundry Downs.

About Avon Needs Trees

Avon Needs Trees operates with the explicit goal of reforesting the Bristol Avon catchment area, which currently only has 8% woodland cover. The mission revolves around planting native broadleaf trees, including species such as oak, beech, hornbeam, and hazel. The idea is to restore habitats, improve water quality, and contribute to carbon sequestration, thereby addressing the climate and biodiversity crises.

I also built the Avon Needs Trees website and felt I wanted to help out with volunteering.

The Planting

I decided to cycle to the planting site, which is about 11 miles from my house. Driving would have been easier, but seemed excessive on a day that was meant to be improving the natural environment. So I cycled through Bristol and out into the country side to the south of the city, which took about 1 hour and 20 minutes in total. My feet were wet after going through a deep puddle on a uncycleable track (thanks, Google).

Upon arrival at Great Avon Wood, we were briefed on the reforestation mission. We were provided with saplings, spades, and instructions on planting techniques. We were given a range of species including alder, hawthorn, guelder rose and wayfaring trees and were planting a shrubby area on the boundary of the field.

An oak sapling with a bio-degradable mulch mat


The choice of native tree species was deliberate, aiming to recreate a diverse and resilient ecosystem. Native trees are adapted to local conditions, enhancing the likelihood of successful growth. Oak, beech, and hazel were selected for their compatibility with the soil and climate of the Avon River catchment area and had already been planted.

Saplings in tree guards to protect against rabbits.

In the end we did need to add tree guards to the saplings. This was due to, despite the expensive deer and rabbit fence around the field, rabbits. Rabbits nibble the buds from saplings so these needed a helping hand to protect them against grazing.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of reforestation was a recurring theme throughout the day. The planting of trees contributes to habitat restoration, creating spaces for local wildlife. Additionally, the process aids in mitigating climate change by facilitating carbon sequestration. It was very satisfying to know that the trees we planted would contribute to tackling many issues over the years as the grow.

Community Involvement

The day’s activities fostered a sense of community and shared purpose among volunteers. As we worked together, conversations centred on the importance of environmental conservation, local ecosystems, and the role of individuals in effecting change.

Overall, the tree-planting experience with Avon Needs Trees was a very rewarding, and tiring, undertaking. I am definitely going to go back and volunteer some more and get some more trees in the ground. You can also get involved by visiting their website and signing up for their many volunteering days here.