#MORE than 100 people have turned out to plant trees at a beauty spot to help it recover from the ravages of disease.
The event at Betty’s Wood on the St Ives Estate near Bingley was so successful all 1,500 saplings were planted and a second planting day has been cancelled.
Andrew Cutts, assistant trees and woodlands manager for Bradford Council, said the turn-out of 122 volunteers on Thursday was “incredible”.
He said: “It just shows how much people love the site.
“We weren’t sure how many would come forward on the day because of the weather and a school group of 60 cancelled because of ice.”
He said there was great community spirit and he hopes that those who attended will take away some learning about woodlands.
Mr Cutts added: “We’re really thankful for people’s time and energy.”
Local people ranged in age from young children to the more mature retired community. Among the youngsters helping out were children from Beckfoot and Priestthorpe Primary Schools.
The saplings were planted in an area where larch trees planted in 1948 as a commercial crop had been cut down in response to the discovery of the disease Phytophthora ramorum, which is also known as the ‘plant destroyer’.
Pam Laking, of the Friends of St Ives Estate, said people had been depressed by the state of the wood but poppies, bluebells and foxgloves were showing that nature was bouncing back.
She said: “We were overwhelmed by the turnout. It shows how strongly people care about Betty’s Wood.”
The Friends also held a planting day on January 5 to put in an avenue of native flowering trees and are starting a ‘practical tasks team’ to do outside work and staff the visitor centre.
Anyone interested in volunteering should call Mrs Laking on 07958 780391.
The next volunteer planting day scheduled for Saturday, January 26, has now been cancelled.
Mr Cutts said: “I appreciate that this may come as a disappointment to some people who were wanting to be involved in the tree planting. However, the positive aspect is that all of the trees that were set aside for volunteers to plant are now safely in the ground.
“Although the weather forecast isn’t always accurate, it is better that the trees have been planted and we are not having to hope for suitable weather conditions next week.”
A total of 19 native tree species were planted on Thursday and Mr Cutts said managers of the site tried to ensure that they would produce a high canopy mixed with a varied understorey to encourage native wildlife.
He said the site proved that woodland can be resilient as the ground flora had bounced back really quickly from the felling with foxgloves particularly spreading dramatically which should produce a carpet of purple flowers in the summer and he called on people to visit over the coming months to see the area develop.
The tree planting was carried out in partnership with Trees for Cities, with funding from corporate partner Npower, and the Friends of St Ives Estate.