A chance encounter has led to a major tree planting project at The Deer Park in the National Forest. Robinson Forestry has facilitated planting over 15,000 new trees as part of an expansion of The Deer Park’s popular woodland walk – with all saplings protected with Tubex Recyclable Tree Shelters.
Completed at the beginning of 2023, The Deer Park’s changing landscape project has seen the creation of 15.7 hectares of new woodland and parkland, with a range of mostly native trees and shrubs, including over 130 standalone parkland trees.
The Deer Park Farm Shop, Cafe & Woodland Walk, located in Hoar Cross, Staffordshire, is owned by the Prince family. In response to plummeting milk prices, they saw the need to diversify their business and so opened a farm shop and café which started construction in late 2019.
“Milk prices weren’t getting any better and our costs were rising. Many dairy farms were either closing or looking to do similar projects. So we decided to go down the farm shop and cafe route with the hope that we would ultimately pasteurise our own milk and produce cheese,” said Lesley Prince.
COVID restrictions, imposed during construction and soon after opening, proved challenging with The Deer Park only able provide a takeaway service to small groups of customers.
Lesley, who designed and now manages the farm shop and café, had to think of a solution to this challenge.
“We had to invent a way to get people to visit, and that’s why we opened the woodland walk so that people could come for their daily exercise, whilst grabbing a coffee or some food,” continued Lesley.
The woodland walk proved to be incredibly successful even after COVID restrictions were relaxed, but it was a chance encounter with Charles Robinson – who regularly visited The Deer Park with his family – which led to the ambitious plan to expand the existing woodland walk through the planting of new trees.
Charles Robinson is managing director of Robinson Forestry, a leading forest management consultancy which provides forestry and woodland management services, including grants administration, timber harvesting, woodland creation, carbon sequestration and contract management services.
Charles met Lesley after spotting a fallen tree on the existing woodland walk and offering her advice on how to handle its removal which eventually led to the plans to expand the walk.
Speaking about the project, Charles said “We started the project in April 2022 and came up with the initial design by walking around the site with Lesley, identifying where we could connect existing habitats and create new ones. The Deer Park site posed an awful lot of opportunity – just the sheer scale of it meant we had a considerable design challenge.”
“It was mostly a mixed native planting scheme with oak, sycamore, field maple, Scots pine and quite a number of shrubs too. We also put in about six kilometres of new fencing.”
To support the project, funding was provided through two grants from the National Forest, which Robinson Forestry helped to secure.
Tubex Recyclable Tree Shelters were specified by Robinson Forestry to protect the newly planted trees and shrubs.
Explaining the choice, Charles said “Tubex is a leading manufacturer; although we’ve used many different brands in the past, Tubex have always come out on top. Their shelters have longevity, and they have a brilliant collection and recycling scheme for end-of-life”.
Tree and shrub shelters protect vulnerable saplings from browsing agents such as rabbits, voles and deer, whilst providing a beneficial microclimate within the shelter which results in better initial establishment and higher survival rates.
Tubex Recyclable Tree Shelters are manufactured using an average of 35% recycled material and are fully recyclable at their end-of-life through the company’s Collection and Recycling Programme.