Brian May's woodland vision takes root

Queen guitarist Dr Brian May and founder of Save Me will plant the first tree and mark the start of a new Save Me project to establish a new native woodland on a 157-acre site in Bere Regis, Dorset, on Saturday 28th September 2013 at 2:30pm during a community planting day.

In total, more than 100,000 trees and shrubs will be planted over the next 12 months in what is one of the largest new woodland planting schemes in the south of England this year.

Dr May’s Save Me woodland planting scheme aims to create a significant wildlife haven and enhanced ecological habitat on a site to the southern side of the village of Bere Regis which was previously agricultural land.

The proposals include open, responsible pedestrian access and involve the gradual transformation of intensive agricultural land to a woodland and wildlife reserve

The woodland originally named ‘Save Me Woods’ has become known by local residents as ‘May’s Wood’ and the name has stuck.  They have been consulted about the plans and many attended a consultation day in February when they heard from Dr May and other stakeholders involved. Locals are being encouraged to join Dr May and his team throughout the afternoon of 28th September and help plant some of the first trees.

Around 600 trees will be planted at the event, predominantly oak and supplied as small cells (20cm tall trees with their roots protected in a peat plug) which are easy to handle and plant for children and adults alike.  People will be shown how to place the protective shelters over each tree to complete the process of tree planting. 
        
Dr May says he wants to create an environment where people and animals can exist together. He explains: “I come from a place of playing guitar and music, but I’ve always had a concern about animals which led to the founding of my charity, Save Me.  Our basic philosophy is that this land used to be forest hundreds of years ago and now I want to re-claim it on behalf of our wildlife. Eventually it will form a wildlife corridor and link on with the wildlife meadow.
 
“We have a wonderful possibility to make an environment which our children and grandchildren will grow up and enjoy in harmony with the animals around them.”

Eight fields are being planted as part of the May’s Wood conversion from agricultural land into new woodland habitat.  Planted and managed by contractor UPM Tilhill, the range of trees will include Oak, beech, chestnut, limes, wild cherry, spruce, Douglas fir, walnut and woody shrubs.  The majority of the tree planting will take place after 1 January once the farming cycle has fully stopped.
 
Anne Brummer, Chief Executive of Save Me, added: "It's an exciting new project for Save Me and our first experiment into maintaining a woodland humanely with a natural balance for all to enjoy. We hope this will be the first of many such projects in the heart of the country, showing that fauna and flora will survive and support each other without too much interference from man. This land has had all its natural nutrients drained from it by intensive farming, it is now time for us to give it back by introducing a huge woodland planting scheme of native trees. It has been a long process to get here and we are all really excited about the future, watching this grow and expanding the project. May's Wood will totally Rock! "

Responsible pedestrian public access will be encouraged over most areas, with gates through sections where deer fences are erected and clear paths and rides set out to make a diverse experience to the visitor.  The margins of the woodland will have a graduated edge with lower growing woody shrubs such as viburnum, hazel, hawthorn, bird cherry and spindle being planted though areas retained and managed for wild flowers.

All the young plants being used have been grown in the UK from seed taken from healthy trees or local sources. They are predominately native species, with the exception of walnut and conifer to provide winter cover. Due to the current status of ash die-back, no ash trees will be planted until a disease resistant species has been found. While the management practices will not be fully organic, the use of herbicides will immediately be greatly reduced from historic levels and after three or four years of the scheme they will only be employed as a last resort to control any nuisance weeds. There will be no use of insecticides or fungicides that may have been regularly used on the arable land previously.

UPM Tilhill’s District Manager Julian Ohlsen added: “We are very pleased to be working once again with Dr May on a project such as this. We have huge amounts of experience in creating and restoring woodland, as well as wildlife habitats all over the UK, and this is one of the largest in the South for several years.”

UPM Tilhill, established more than 60 years ago, is a national company operating from a network of offices throughout the UK. UPM Tilhill is the UK’s largest forest management and timber harvesting company. The company provides a full range of consultancy and contracting services to the forest owner and forestry investor.  Further information is available at www.upm-tilhill.com 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

While we are keen to welcome you, we also want the event to be enjoyable for the local community and uninterrupted. You are welcome to watch the events and record them taking place but interviews can only take place at the end of the event (with the exception of live broadcasts at pre-arranged times). Please confirm by e-mail to suzi@blueberry-pr.co.uk by noon on Friday 27th September whether you are likely to attend on the day and any special requirements you have.

The spot where the first tree is being planted is approximately 200 metres from a hard track so we advise bringing suitable footwear as it is likely to be muddy.

Interview slots available with Dr May from approximately 4pm (see programme below). Please let us know your requirements especially if you require a live interview. Ann Brummer, Chief Executive of Save Me, and UPM Tilhill’s Julian Ohlsen will also be available to interview.

Parking at the site is limited and vehicles should park in the village of Bere Regis which is a short walk to the site. If you are bringing a satellite truck, please let us know in advance so we can make arrangements for parking. Drinks and food will be available throughout the day for everyone attending.

Programme

2:30pm

Meeting and Welcome
All participants and press to make their way to Shitterton Wood Plot Field - adjacent to the A35
slip road heading west (BH20 7HU). The Save Me team and Dr May will welcome everyone
and explain the ethos and objectives for the new woodlands and how the scheme will develop.

3:20pm

The Woodland Song
Brian to introduce the Woodland Song. Performed by the school choir and led by Linda Lamon,
this new piece of work will celebrate the event in music and lyrics.

3:30pm

Move to Horse Close Plots for Brian’s Tree planting
Dr May to plant the very first tree in May’s Wood.

Photo opportunity but no time for interviews at this point, although opportunity to film.
Community Planting
Julian Ohlsen of UPM Tilhill to explain about and demonstrate how to plant the young oaks and the need for tree shelters, how they work and how to fit them as part of the tree planting process.

Tree planting continues as and when people arrive for as many as five trees each across the first field.

4:10pm

Wildlife Rocks Talk
The Save Me team will give a 40-minute talk about some of the amazing wildlife that surround us and some of the unusual roles that it performs to maintain the natural balance. You will meet the people from Save Me and Harper Asprey Wildlife Rescue who care and rehabilitate wildlife and return them to the wild where they belong.

Interviews with Dr May and team from approximately 4pm please discuss requirements beforehand

Contact for Dr Brian May:                                   Contact for UPM Tilhill:
Phil Symes, PR Contact.                                      Suzi Christie Suzi Christie
Email: philsymes@theprcontact.com                     E-mail: Suzi@blueberry-pr.co.uk
Tel: + 55 21 93 61 11 97                                    Tel: 01435 830031
                                                                      Mobile:  07590 591140 (contact day of event)
Contact for Save Me:
Anne Brummer
E-mail: anne@save-me.org.uk
Mobile: 07725 878460