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In February and March, we planted 27 native trees within the Sanctuary’s grounds, thanks to grant funding from The Tree Council’s Branching Out Fund.

Branching Out provides grants to community groups, schools and small registered charities seeking to establish trees, hedgerows and orchards throughout the winter planting season to support biodiversity and develop green spaces. Once our trees arrived, they were planted by our team of volunteers and gardening club members.

Our gardening club members preparing the ground for a new tree.

What did we plant, and why?

A variety of native species were planted across the whole site, including Black Alder, English Oak and Field Maple. Trees were chosen that have edible leaves and branches, so that our Animal Team can use fallen boughs to create enrichment activities for our rescued animals and diversify their diets. In the farm area they were planted to provide shade for our pigs, Snuffles and Truffles, who wear sun cream in the summer due to their sensitive skin!

How will the new trees impact the Sanctuary?

We hope that the new trees will also improve the overall aesthetic of the Sanctuary and encourage local wildlife to visit and thrive. One of our young gardening club members even noted: “When this tree is big and strong, I will come and see what birds are living in it!”

Christine Harty, the Sanctuary’s Head of Fundraising, said: “We are grateful to the Tree Council for providing this generous grant, which allows our Sanctuary to increase our biodiversity, support native tree growth, develop our green spaces, and engage with our local community.”

The Branching Out Fund

Branching Out has supported hundreds of projects in communities throughout the United Kingdom, delivering new habitats for wildlife, and a green living legacy for residents and visitors to enjoy. The focus is on planting a variety of tree species, bare root, with cardboard or bioplastic protection. The Tree Council provides advice around the types of trees to plant and the tree protection needed as part of the application process.

The Tree Council Grants Officer, Geraldine Creaven said: “Branching Out presents a fantastic opportunity for schools and community groups large and small to get their spades in the ground and start establishing life-enhancing and biodiversity boosting trees, hedgerows, and orchards in their neighbourhoods. We’re so thrilled for all our successful applicants, especially the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary.”