Suffolk farm will become haven for wildlife thanks to trees and hedges from the Woodland Trust

Suffolk farm will become haven for wildlife thanks to trees and hedges from the Woodland Trust

When the pandemic put a stop to Bill Mayne’s usual winter sports, he took to planting trees. 

Bill, who owns the 100-acre Burgh House Farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, wasn’t just prompted to do so by a lack of snow though. The removal of the Single Farm Payment (SFP) and other post-Brexit changes were something of a catalyst. 

The farm comprises 35 acres of beautiful water meadows and thick hedges. Around 70 acres of arable were acquired when he bought the property in 2006, ten acres of which were put down to grass as part of Higher Level Stewardship 

Bill said:  

“The farm is relatively small, and I’m retired now and don’t make a living from it.  I have an agreement with a neighbouring farmer that he takes the arable crop while I take the Single Farm Payment but with Brexit and the removal of that payment I thought it was the perfect time to rethink what it is we want to achieve from the land. It’s basically just a cabbage patch so I decided to take the farm down a more environmentally-friendly route.” 

As Bill has a grazing agreement with a young couple who are building a bigger herd of Limousine cross beef cattle (he used to have his own herd of red poll cattle but sold them a few years ago), he decided to move towards grassland and create some native woodlands. 

After signing up to the Woodland Trust’s flagship woodland creation scheme MOREwoods, ​​ which is currently open for applications, he planted hedgerows to break up two large fields into five or six smaller ones.  He also planted 2.5ha of native broadleaf woodland in two blocks and drilled grasses such as millet that will attract birds and small mammals. 

Bill said:  

“The hope is that as the trees mature and start to produce a canopy we will have fantastic habitat for wildlife. In ten years we will have a wonderfully rich habitat, not just of woods but of marvellous thick hedges that will connect them. I’m really hopeful it will be a big boost for wildlife.   

“I think with the changes to agricultural policy and stewardship schemes and the loss of the SFP more farms will be looking to see what’s best for them, looking to improve returns while doing more for wildlife at the same time. Planting trees and hedges is a simple but effective way to do that and I think we will certainly be looking to do more of the same.” 

Woodland Trust outreach adviser Paul Woodgate said: 

“Bill has created a wonderful site that will bring him some cracking benefits. The trees hedges will fight climate change by locking up carbon, they’ll enrich the soil, provide shade, shelter  and browse for his cattle and a fantastic habitat for wildlife.  

“We hope his experience encourages other landowners to plant trees. It’s such a fantastic way to tackle the climate and nature crises.” 

The Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods scheme is open to anyone wanting to plant woodland of at least 500 trees on at least half a hectare of land. The charity can visit the site, help design the woodland, create a bespoke species mix, supply the agreed trees and protection, and cover up to 75% of costs as well as arrange for contractors to plant the trees. Applications are now open for the November 2021-March 2022 planting season. 

MOREwoods is funded by Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland as part of a broader commitment to plant one million trees a year over the next decade. 

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