Trees and nature conservation

From the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest, to flocks of thousands of golden plover wintering on the wetlands of the Trent Valley, our district has a unique biodiversity.

The Council helps to protect and promote our wildlife in a number of ways, from planting trees to managing the areas parks and gardens.

This page contains help and advice on planting trees and gardening for wildlife. Find out more about protecting trees and hedgerows.

Planting for the future

We’re currently undertaking an ambitious tree planting programme - and we need your help.

In July 2019, we joined other local authorities across the country in declaring a climate emergency and in doing so, we’ve pledged to work towards developing measures to offset global warming. One of our actions is to increase the number of trees in the district, making our communities more attractive, greener and healthier places to live and work.

Trees are vital in the fight against climate change. They help by:

•    absorbing carbon dioxide

•    improving air quality

•    cooling the warming planet

•    fighting flooding

•    nurturing wildlife

•    making landscapes more resilient

Over the next five years, more than 10,000 trees will be planted across the district.

Free trees for residents

Every autumn, we invite local residents to apply for two free trees to plant in their gardens. The trees are called ‘whips’ which means they are small, newly grown trees and therefore very easy to plant. An information leaflet with planting and care instructions is provided to residents.

The tree choices this year are:

  • Hazels (Corylus avellana) are medium-sized trees, growing to a height of around 12 metres and can live for several hundred years. They are a brilliant conservation tree providing catkins from late February, nuts for squirrels and shelter for birds. Hazel provide early food for bees, they support moths, butterflies, birds and small mammals too and coppiced wood can be used as pea sticks and bean poles by gardeners.
  • Crab apple trees (Malus sylvestris) can grow to a height of around 10m and in spring are covered in scented blossom which is loved by bees and other pollinating insects. The blossom develops into small hard green fruits from which you can make jelly or leave them for garden birds including blackbirds and thrushes. Mammals, such as mice, voles, foxes and badgers, also eat crab apple fruit.

Trees will be distributed on one of three dates in late November, early December from four locations around the district – Newark, Southwell, Ollerton and Clipstone.

Friday 26 November

  • Sconce and Devon Park, Newark 10am to 12pm
  • Sconce and Devon Park, Newark 4pm to 6pm
  • Vicar Water Country Park, Clipstone 10am to 2pm

Saturday 27 November

  • Vicar Water Country Park, Clipstone 10am to 12pm
  • Southwell Market 10am to 2pm

Saturday 4 December

  • Sherwood Heath, Ollerton 10am to 2pm

The application form for free trees is now closed. The final day for applying for free trees was Sunday 31 October.

Trees will be available on these dates only, so residents are being encouraged to check that they are available on one of these dates or to find someone to collect on their behalf prior to applying.

Free trees for parish councils, schools and community groups

Free tree packs are also available every spring for parish councils, schools and community groups. We choose trees with great wildlife value including hawthorn, blackthorn, grey willow, crab apple and rowan.

In 2021, we gave away 1,140 trees to parish councils, schools and community groups.

Check back for updates for the free tree giveaway for 2022.

Choosing and planting trees

It’s important to consider what you want from the trees you plant before you choose them. Planting is best done between October and April.

If you want your tree to be good for wildlife, native species are usually best. Trees which provide fruit and nuts are also good. And if you want your tree to look pretty, choose one which has flowers or colourful fruit or leaves.

Find out more about choosing trees for wildlife on the RSPB website.

Not all trees will be happy in your grounds, so you'll need to look at what type of trees grow well in your area. What are your grounds like? If the soil is hard or dry, then maybe trees from hotter countries might feel more at home such as a cherry. Some trees such as willow and alder thrive in wetter areas.

Find out about native British trees from the Woodland Trust.

Size and planting position is crucial and there is a tree for every situation including a planter on a patio, small garden, large garden, hedge or hillside. Small tress are usually cheaper than larger trees and take less time to establish

You also need to think about how tall and wide your tree will be when it's fully grown. Will the roots and branches damage any nearby buildings or paths? And think about whether falling leaves or fruit will cause an issue.

Find out more about choosing a tree in this video on the Royal Horticultural Society’s website.