Great Britain

Oakworth couple in their 70s left to manage woodland

A COUPLE in their seventies who gave-up an acre of land for tree planting a decade ago have issued a warning after being left to maintain the woodland site.

Mary Elliott and her husband Martin Harwood offered the field beside their home in response to a search for suitable sites by the Forest of Bradford project.

Hundreds of trees were subsequently planted and initially their upkeep was overseen by the project, which is run by Bradford Environmental Action Trust (BEAT).

But now the couple – of Hob Cote Lane, Oakworth – have been told that in the absence of any contract, the organisation is no longer responsible for looking after the woods.

"We feel badly let down," said Ms Elliott.

"When we offered Forest of Bradford the land we were assured they would look after the trees – they did come back for three years to kill weeds around the new plants but they were supposed to return after nine years to carry out work, and this hasn't been done."

Ms Elliott said there had been a change in management and when she approached the new project boss, she was informed that because there was no written contract the work couldn't be done.

"The woods are in dire need of attention," she said. "We can do some work ourselves but we're both in our seventies – there's too much for us to take on, plus it requires some expertise.

"At a time when people are being encouraged to plant trees to help the environment, I just find this so disappointing. We feel we've been abandoned.

"There must be records somewhere of the planting."

Ms Elliott said she and her husband remained fully supportive of the ideals of the project and indeed would encourage others to get involved, but she issued a warning.

"These woods environmentally are to be encouraged – they contribute to establishing corridors for wildlife and ours is used by deer travelling up and down from the valley bottom," she said.

"However, if you do get involved make sure you have a written contract so that you don't end-up in the same situation as us."

Jacob Silver, environmental officer with BEAT, told us: "BEAT has been working on environmental projects in the Bradford district for over 20 years and through the Forest of Bradford project has planted more than 750,000 trees with the help of volunteers.

"Grant funding has been secured over the years to help make this happen and we wouldn't have been able to achieve this amazing result without landowners coming forward with areas suitable for planting.

"We work hard to achieve our objectives and are committed to doing what we can to plant trees to improve the environment and help to mitigate the effects of climate change. When planting we ensure the trees are established and after that our focus is on creating the most natural native woodland possible."

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