Celebratory avenue planted in Wendover Woods to mark 100 years of the Forestry Commission and the RAF Halton Centenary
Commemorative trees have been planted in Wendover Woods to celebrate 100 years of forestry and to mark the centenary of our neighbours and stakeholders, RAF Halton.
The trees are a small leaved lime and are part of more than 70 commemorative plantings taking place across the country to mark a century since the creation of the Forestry Commission.
The new landscape features are both a testament to the past and a view to the future. On 21 September 1939, the then Air Ministry gifted Wendover Woods to the Forestry Commission and we are proud to also be celebrating 80 years as the custodians of this ancient and historic woodland.
Helping out with the preparation and planting were volunteers from RAF Halton and the Chiltern Society. Flying Officer Curt Shields said: “It’s wonderful to have an opportunity to celebrate the joint centenary between our Station and the Forestry Commission. Opportunities like this to support our community are something we’ll grasp firmly and the avenue truly looks fantastic”.
As it is the centenary year of RAF Halton, they have already committed to an array of events this year. They exercised their right during the Freedom of Dacorum by parading through Hemel Hempstead, they hosted Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall the RAF Halton Honorary Air Commodore and they opened their doors to the public during our Annual Heritage Day.
Today, Forestry England – an agency of the Forestry Commission – looks after more than 250,000 hectares of forested land, including Wendover Woods and over 60 other sites across the Chilterns. But 100 years ago, England’s landscapes looked very different.
For centuries, forests had been cleared for agriculture, military endeavours, and to build ships and homes. By 1919, the additional strain of the First World War left woodland cover at only five percent – the lowest in recorded history – and the Commission was formed to reverse the decline.
Now, a century on and the Commission has more than doubled the amount of land in England covered by trees (over 10%), planting more than two million acres of forest.
It has evolved from focusing on production to protecting wildlife, leading world-class research and providing spaces and activities for people to enjoy.
Today, in response to the climate crisis, tree pests and diseases, the Forestry Commission is planting more diverse woodlands and trialling alternative species across the public forest estate.
In its centenary year, the Commission is planting a 100-hectare mixed woodland at Rushy Knowe in Kielder Forest, a 100-acre forest at Sence Valley in the midlands, and doubling the size of Thames Chase Community Forest on the London fringe.
It is also working with other landowners to further increase England’s woodland cover.
John Bruce, Acting Forest Management Director, East England, said,
“It has been an exceptional year at Wendover Woods. 2019 has seen the completion of our new visitor hub – toilets and cafe, play trails and new car parks.
Being chosen as one of six sites across England to mark the Forestry Commission’s Centenary is a great honour particularly as we celebrate our 100th Year together with our neighbours at RAF Halton. This planting is unique as our avenue of trees will mirror an existing avenue planted on the estate over 140 years ago.
It’s hoped that our visitors to Wendover will discover the Avenue and walk along its length reflecting on the future of our nations forests and their importance to the environment.”
The Forestry Commission’s centenary in 2019 has included the largest ever survey of forest wildlife, a centenary running series, writers commissioned to celebrate the diversity and beauty of England’s forests, and a Royal Mail stamp collection featuring six spectacular forest landscapes.