Silk Wood Community Planting Project

A group of adults and young people stand in a line for a photo. The young people hold spades in their hands, they have been planting trees in the area around them.

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.

4 children crowd round a small tree they are planting into the ground

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.

So far, we’ve worked with individuals from eight schools, two colleges, one university, six youth groups and 107 volunteers from groups based in and around Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol. 

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!

Over a vast area of land the viewer can see hundreds of tree tubes in shades of light brown attached to wooden stakes to keep the guard up right protecting baby trees.

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

A young lady smiles as she hammers in a peg to a brown piece of matting where she will be planting a baby tree.

Progress so far

Thanks to support from our funders, over 600 people have taken part in the project, planting an amazing total of 3,300 trees on 32 planting days between November 2023 and March 2024. 

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.

Special thanks to the funders of this ongoing project for their invaluable support which has nurtured new life in Silk Wood, from thriving native trees to a vibrant community invested in its future. Their generosity has helped secure a flourishing legacy for generations to come.

Sponsorship logos for the Silk Wood Community Planting Project


Sign up for all the latest news from the Silk Wood Community Planting Project.

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...

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.

A group of adults and young people stand in a line for a photo. The young people hold spades in their hands, they have been planting trees in the area around them.

Since January 2024 over 600 participants have come to plant a grand total of 3,300 trees!

Stakes over a field with tree protection covers and volunteers looking and checking the baby trees are ok

Care for the trees never stops as knee-high thistles and bramble clearing takes place around the saplings planted this winter.

A large leaved lime close up of the leaf, green oval leaves with jagged edges.

Learn more about the UK native tree species being planted in the Silk Wood Community Planting Project – for June it’s the large-leaved lime.

An aspen tree branch with several wide circular leaves with jagged edges

Aspen can be found nearly anywhere in the world, and from sea-level up to 1900m!