Manor Farm tree plantation

Designed, optimised and performed appropriate tree planting for an ecologically minded farm

Duncan O’Brien


January 5, 2020


628 native trees (aspen, beech, oak, silver birch and sycamore) planted across two fields. ~80 survival rate to date.

I provided consultation for Manor Farm, to improve its marginal farmland for biodiversity. Specifically, I was hired to convert poor quality pasture adjacent to railway hedgerows to semi-natural woodland using native tree species. The entire process from planning to implementation is visualised in Figure 1.

Project stages

  1. First planning stage
    • From the available land, optimal locations were selected using GIS. This involved topological, soil and vegetation data.
  2. Second planning stage
    • Appropriate species chosen for the selected environmental conditions. Grant funding sought from the Woodland Trust.
  3. Third planning stage
    • Plausible planting regimes considered based upon landowner and employee polling. Copse like regime preferred with fast and slow growing species interspersed.
  4. Planting stage
    • Initial November 2020 plant of ~300 individual trees across two sites. Farm employees and families were invited to take part (see Figure 2).
  5. Management and expansion
    • Since 2020, three additional plantings have been made with periodic management to prevent grass overcrowding. The local community now donate unwanted saplings to the farm (e.g oaks in lawns).