Silk Wood Community Planting Project

2 men and a woman plant a tree in the ground and are putting a protective guard around it.

The Silk Wood Community Planting Project at Westonbirt Arboretum will overcome the impact of an ash dieback outbreak through an exemplary regeneration and replanting of approx. 9,000 trees within Silk Wood. 

Continuing a story that began in 2021 when trees infected by Chalara ash dieback needed to be felled and removed from Silk Wood, this three-year project will create Westonbirt’s first Community Woodland through the involvement of local groups and schools.

3 young adults stand in a row behind a small tree with yellow hard hats on and equipment in their hands to prune the trees around them.

Involving the community

We are involving hundreds of people in each step of the woodland regeneration. Young people, individuals from under-served communities, those with neurodiverse conditions and people of a broad range of ethnicities will be part of this journey. They will work alongside Westonbirt’s team in the design, ground clearance and preparation, tree planting, monitoring and future care of this beautiful woodland.

Replanting Silk Wood

The planting is underway! We began with planting lime trees in November 2023.

By building resilience into the design, we can help ensure the woodland can be enjoyed for generations to come. Over 20 suitable tree species will be planted, a diverse mix that will help mitigate threats from a changing climate. This will also strengthen the structure of the woodland, increasing biological diversity and helping create resistance to other impacts such as storms.

Mostly native trees will be planted, including English and sessile oak, field maple and hawthorn. As we expect our climate to warm, we may also look to plant species that have a more southerly provenance, for example, beech trees originating from Italy!

woman planting tree in open field
Forestry England

Discover how Forestry England are safeguarding trees from pests and diseases and protecting their future.

Close up of boot planting small tree

Progress so far

This exciting project is still in its consultation and fundraising stage, as more funding is needed to complete this three-year project. The first phase of tree planting started in the winter of 2023/24. Projects like this highlight the work Westonbirt is doing to deliver a 10-year vision by connecting more people with trees to improve the quality of life, through education, conservation, and participation.

Follow our progress

A drone image showing a vast piece of land that has been clear felled.
In September 2023 we were thrilled to announce that we raised over £350,000 towards Phase One of our community planting project.
A young boy looks down at a piece of paper, he is colouring in a piece of land that he is designing for a replanting project at Westonbirt Arboretum
We worked with local schools to help design the new community woodland.
A group of volunteers are stood amoung tall wildflowers with pieces of paper in hand to survey what flora and fauna there is
Volunteers conducted a baseline survey to see which flora and fauna are present after previous felling.
A large forestry machine called a mulcher churns up vegetation on the ground leaving behind brown soil.
To ready the site for planting, we brought in heavy machinery late autumn 2023 to clear the area.
Sapling trees in white bags ready to be planted
Tree planting continued in 2024 with volunteers from Elm Tree Farm, part of the Brandon Trust. Planting the first 60 saplings including field maple, small-leaved lime, pedunculate oak and hawthorn.
4 children crowd round a small tree they are planting into the ground
This project excites young people about trees, woodland management, and conservation, securing the future for Westonbirt.