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Let’s hear it for our Tree Musketeers!

20 Dec 2021

Our students plant over 100 trees to help fight climate crisis

Tree Musketeers

A group of our student volunteers have planted over 100 trees in a bid to help fight the planet’s climate and biodiversity crises.

The Tree Musketeers was set up by Dr Anna Gilchrist to work with local environmental organisations to undertake conservation volunteering. Students participate in a diverse range of different activities providing habitat management and species protection including tree planting, tree thinning, scrub clearance, pond creation, and building bird nest boxes and bat boxes.

Their work supports organisations such as City of Trees, the National Trust and Wildlife Trusts who often struggle to fund the people-power needed for hands-on conservation.

Originally the Tree Musketeers was created to provide volunteering opportunities for students on the BSc (Hons) Environmental Management programme, but its popularity has spread and they now recruit volunteers from across the University.

On a particularly wet and windy winter day in December, 34 volunteers attended a City of Trees event at Gatley Hill in Stockport – the area was selected as the Greater Manchester Champion City launch for the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, which encourages people to plant a tree to mark the Queen’s jubilee.

Tree planting in Gatley Hill is particularly important for helping to intercept rainwater and increase infiltration into the ground, helping to reduce the volume of water entering the site’s adjacent brook – a known cause of flooding downstream in Gatley itself.

City of Trees have targeted a total of 3,445 trees to be planted at this site. Despite the bad weather, local residents, amateur conservationists and the Tree Musketeers teamed up to plant as many as possible in one day. The students managed to plant well in excess of 100 trees, helping City of Trees towards their ‘1,000 in one day’ target.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester Sir Warren Smith, and Mayor and Mayoress of Stockport Cllr. Adrian Nottingham and Mrs Diane Nottingham all braved the weather to lend their support. The students made a fantastic impression and although wet, tired and extremely muddy, went home feeling they had made a real difference.

“The Tree Musketeers were total heroes giving up their time to plant trees in such awful weather conditions – they really came up trumps,” said Pete Stringer, GI Planning and Technical Manager for City of Trees. “I thank them for all the fantastic contributions they make to planting and managing our trees.”

“I participate with the Tree Musketeers to increase woodland biodiversity, to help out the local community, and to get more practical experience within the environmental sector...and it is also a lot of fun!” said Elisabetta Centofanti, a 3rd year Environmental Management student.

“I love volunteering with the Tree Musketeers because I can spend time in nature and do a good deed at the same time,” said Meda Bagdonaite, a 2nd year BSc (Hons) Environmental Management student. “Learning practical skills, getting my hands to work and not spending time in front of a screen is what I missed during the lockdowns. At the end I feel tired yet fulfilled.”

“Since Manchester is such an urban setting, volunteering at Tree Musketeers provides me with an opportunity to see beautiful green spaces outside of the city. I enjoy visiting areas surrounding Manchester and getting to know local people as well.”