Growing together – volunteering with Avon Needs Trees

We spent a day volunteering at Great Avon Wood in January, helping local community organisation Avon Needs Trees plant 250 trees.

As landscape architects, ecologists and visualisers, providing environmental design solutions, improving places for people and for nature is front and centre of our thinking. Sustainability, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss are very real concerns. So when thinking about how to spend our company day out, a day in the fresh air helping local charity Avon Needs Trees create new, permanent woodland was a perfect fit.

Avon Needs Trees (ANT) was set up in 2019 with the goal of reforesting the Avon River catchment. The woodland it creates will sequester carbon, provide natural flood management, and enhance local biodiversity. It will also provide publicly accessible green spaces where possible.

Located in Pensford, not far from our office in Corston, Great Avon Wood is ANT’s most recent and most ambitious project to date. With a site covering over 100 acres, ANT is aiming to plant 40,000 trees, making it one of the largest woodland creation projects in the West of England.

After several days of heavy frost and stormy weather, the ground thawed and the rain held off for our tree-planting day. No strangers to pulling on our wellies and heading out into the fields, the day was a great opportunity to get outside as a team, and to re-connect outdoors through the pleasure of shared work and impromptu conversations – so important in our post-pandemic world of hybrid working and online meetings.

Warming up in the pub later, we felt a great sense of achievement – tired from the ‘work out’ but reinvigorated by a day spent outdoors. And it seems we were not alone in feeling this way. A 2019 study by Exeter University’s Medical School found that people who spend two hours or more in nature each week are more likely to report good health, an effect that was true right across the demographic spectrum (White et al., 2019).

Our day out at Great Avon Wood also served as a reminder of the importance of access to green spaces and of connecting with nature, something we will continue to champion in our work.

We’re looking forward to another day volunteering with ANT later this year when we’ll have the chance to see how our trees are doing and to make another contribution towards meeting their 40,000-tree goal.

Rosie and Claire volunteering at Great Avon Wood
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White, M.P., Alcock, I., Grellier, J. et al. Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. Sci Rep 9, 7730 (2019).

Rosie is a Chartered Landscape Architect and has experience of working within multidisciplinary project teams across the various stages of the planning and development process.

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