Sunday, 22 February 2009


Trees for Thanet Projects Map
. (Click on map and all photographs for enlarged detail)

What it's all for!
A one year old hedge with a 6m headland full of insect life and short-tailed voles, being used as a permissive bridleway by horse-riders on the left, with a potato main crop being grown. On the right barley growing right up to a narrow verge. (Manston Road - June 2007).
The Trees for Thanet Group began in 1996 and has now involved over 300 young people from around Thanet in planting hedgerows and trees. We have been altering the look of lanes between Birchington and Manston for 12 planting seasons and collecting tons of rubbish.The aim was to to restore old hedges and create improved habitat for wild-life in an area under intense cultivation right up to road verges.
With the help of Quex Park and other sponsors and a great deal of hard work by young people, these aims are being achieved.The aim of this blog is to provide a history of the past 13 years and to keep anyone who is interested, updated on what is going on now.
The map above shows most of the sites referred to in each item but does not include the Trees for Thanet Projects in Broadstairs and Manston.


Armed with secateurs and combustible paper sacks, the inspection of 7kms of hedgerow began one morning in February. The picture above does not show tissue or plastic caught in a young hedge but the 'tents' of the overwintering caterpillars of the brown tailed moth.
A close up of the enemy! Each 'tent' can contain between 100 and 200 hibernating caterpillars.

This picture of the young hawthorn hedge alongside the bridleway that runs from Sparrow Castle Pumping Station on Manston Road to Park Road illustrates the level of brown tailed moth infestation. The 'clean-up' is estimated to have removed between 30,000 to 40,000 potentially very 'hungry' caterpillars which would have one sole purpose in life in March; to eat as much hawthorn leaf as possible!
An annual 'cull' will now be an essential maintainance task.


(Project 17 - See Projects Map)
We were very fortunate again this year to be sponsored by The Phillips Fund that is administered by Kent Community Foundation.
The project involves planting 330 Alders along the south side of Margate Hill from the junction with Manston Rd at the top and down the hill to the outskirts of Acol. It will compliment the Phillips Shelter Belt on Acol Hill on the northern approach into the village.
Purists may not be happy with our choice of tree but we decided to plant The Italian Alder (Alnus cordata) rather than the Common Alder (Alnus glutinosa).
The location is subject to dry conditions in the summer with a shallow soil on chalk. We believe the Italian Alder, which still has nitrogen fixing nodules in its roots, will establish and grow well on this site to produce an attractive tree line in years to come.
Planting began on Saturday the 17th Jan 2009 and was finished on Sat 31 Jan. Planting conditions were far from ideal with heavy rain preceeding each session. There was a further complication; Quex Park had leased the field for another farmer to grow a 'cash' crop of purple sprouting broccolli over the winter and harvesting on very wet soil ended up with compacted soil from a tractor wheel rut right on our planting line. It is fair to say that we ended up with heavy work to dig in compacted soil and one is able to see at close quarters the damage to soil structure created when heavy machinery moves on a wet field.
A welcome rest! The enthusiasm of our young volunteers in muddy, wet and cold conditions continues to amaze us.

The planting progresses! This is the view looking towards the Manston Rd/Margate Hill junction. Planting has been at 1.5m spacing and plants were then left to 'water-in' before mulch sheeting and tree guards were put in place.

The last thing we do at the end of every session is sweep back along the verge and field and collect the rubbish that our fellow Thanet citizens will insist on throwing out of their passing cars. That big white planting bag is full of roadside litter, collected from less than 100m of verge. It is fair to say that 'saving the planet' has no political hope if people do not even have respect for their own immediate environment.


(Projects 16 & 16A -see Projects Map)
Work began on the second part of the Kent International Airport Hedge on The Shottendane Road, sponsored by Infratil and Quex Park Estates on Sat 15 Nov 2008 and despite loosing two mornings to bad weather (rain and waterlogged ground), another 1175 hawthorns were planted in a double row by the 20th Jan 2009.
This will make the hedge 850m long and will, we believe, make it the longest continuous hedge in Thanet. Another 15 wild cherries will be planted behind the latest section.
. The picture above shows volunteers laying mulch sheet over the planted cut off hawthorns. It is a slow and careful process to cut slits with 'stanley knives' in the sheet and then feed the sheet over the stumps without removing any newly formed buds. The sides of the sheet are then 'spaded-in' using curved 'border knives' and clods placed on the centre about every metre to hold it down should edges become loose.

The benefits are early soil warming in spring, weed suppression and moisture retention. On a cold windy February morning with a wind-chill of -4C, it is difficult for volunteers to appreciate the good their work will do in the warm months ahead!


We have identified that our first project in 1996 (Project 1) opposite the Sparrow Castle Pumping Station on The Manston Road (pictured above in Sep 2008) has probably been the original 'locus' of the Brown Tailed Moth infestation we noticed in early summer of 2008 on young hedgerows along The Manston Road (Project 12); on The HSBC Hedge (Project 13) and on the hedge on the north side of the bridle way (Project 9).
The picture above shows a Brown Tailed Moth Caterpillar on a young hawthorn in late September 2008.

This is the typical Brown Tailed Moth 'tent'. The adult female lays eggs in late Aug/early September and the very small caterpillars that hatch then collect together to form a gossamer 'tent' on twigs on the hawthorn. Between 100 and 200 little caterpillars then take up residence and overwinter. Removal of these 'tents' in late autumn and winter effectively removes the infestation and damage that these caterpillars wreak in the next spring; they will strip plant after plant of all leaf.

The end of over 100 'early' nests from the HSBC Hedgerow alone!


(Project 16 & 16A on the projects map)

This is a view of the newly named Kent International Airport Hedge that was started in earnest in January 2008 on the south side of the Shottendane Road.
Sadly, we learned that one of the co-sponsors, Oasis Hong Kong Airlines had gone out of business during the summer of 2008. This first section was planted in November 2007 and here it is in September 2008 looking excellent already.
Altogether 2,231 hawthorns were planted in a staggered double row with mulch sheet laid and a total of 26 wild cherries were planted behind the hedge.