DESPITE two lockdowns and the cancellation of tree plantings, a Ringwood group is close to reaching a milestone figure.

Ringwood Actions for Climate Emergency (RACE) will have planted 20,000 trees on Sunday (December 13) and will be on target to have planted at least 25,000 trees by the new year.

“There have been so many challenges to overcome,” said organiser Louise Mitchell. “When we set the goal to plant 20,000 trees we hadn’t expected a pandemic. We had so many plans to inform and inspire people, like the Eco Fair we planned, talks in the Ringwood Meeting House, events in schools and public plantings.

Salisbury Journal:

Poulner Infant School pupil Edison with his mum Sam plant at Poulner Lakes

“But since March, everything had to be planned with social distancing in mind and social media was the main way to contact people. All the planning meetings also had to be done virtually. We only had two public plantings before the first lockdown. The rest of the planting has been done very differently to what we had planned.

“The community really pulled together, so instead of public plantings, we have had people volunteering on social media and going out in family groups to plant. Our core tree team of ten went out in pairs in early November to plant 1,200 Woodland Trust trees in less than a week. The determination, and the support, has been incredible.”

Tree planting plans were also hit by delays caused by increasing temperatures in October.

The 20,000th tree, an oak, and will be planted by local children at Poulner Lakes on December 13 at a Covid-compliant public planting event.

Salisbury Journal:

Poulner Infant School pupil Kamili planting at The Mount in Ringwood

Conservationist Bob Taylor said: “The oak tree is a symbol of the New Forest, and it’s hoped that this tree will live as long as the historic Knightwood Oak - which is around 500 years old. The oak is a link to the New Forest’s past, and a hope for the future.”

All the trees planted are native species which provide food or homes for pollinators, birds and animals. Trees have been planted in and around Ringwood, including Poulner Lakes, the Mount, along Southampton Road as a hedge to shield A31 pollution, Poulner Infants, Poulner Juniors and other areas.