On 26 February 2022, 48 native trees were planted at the Elbourn Way Recreation Ground to absorb carbon, improve biodiversity, and for everyone to enjoy. A great day, lovely weather, lots of people, yummy cakes, and massive smiles on everyone’s faces.
For Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth to become a zero-carbon parish by 2050, we need to consider not only the reduction of our carbon emissions, but also the removal of the carbon we emit. Since trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere and then store it for their lifetime, often for several hundred years, a number of planting projects will be undertaken by the Zero Carbon Collective over the next few years.
The plan, drawn up by a nationally respected landscape architect, was to provide trees appropriate for a public playing field and open space, together with accessories which, as far as possible, do not utilise single use plastic and are reusable where possible”
- Native trees were chosen for their ability to sequester carbon. They are appropriate to the soil, the geology and the position within the village. Also, when choosing the species, thought was given to the changes in the climate in the last couple of years, and the changes expected in the future.
- A mixture of young fast growing trees and long lived ones were selected which, with space to grow, sequester the greatest amount of carbon: hornbeam, field maple and beech live an average of 350 years; hawthorn averages 300 years; and bird cherry averages 60 years.
- Different species sequester carbon at different rates, but a conservative measurement shows a mature native tree in the UK absorbs about 25 kg of CO2 per year once they reach maturity. The trees proposed will between them lock about one imperial ton in ten years, and about 444 ton in their lifetime.
- Clear areas with no planting remain:
- in the centre for ball games
- around the mound to the east, so young children can continue to roll down the slopes
- in front of the two oaks already established at the east end, to enable a clear view towards them as they grow into majestic and imposing trees.
- The biodiversity of the area will be considerably increased from the beginning by the planting and continue to enhance the village for hundreds of years to come.
Planting the trees and their future
Planting was carried out by residents and members of the Zero Carbon Collective. Whilst everyone brought their own drinks due to Covid considerations, many homemade cakes were provided. The weather was lovely, warm and sunny. With so many people helping, all the trees were planted in less than an hour.
Despite a long, very hot and exceedingly dry summer, the Tree Champions (who had agreed to water and care for specific trees until they became established) succeeded in their task and we look forward to seeing the trees flourish in the coming years.
Over time, the planting will enhance the village through the provision of another woodland area, with a different character to the existing ones. The village’s habitats will be improved by the range of native trees, and the insects and birds which they will attract over the next several hundred years.
And, importantly, the trees will sequester large amounts of carbon from our atmosphere for many years to come as part of our ambition to become a zero-carbon parish by 2050.