Our gardening team has been hard at work over the last few weeks planting around 1,500 bare root trees in one of our spare fields. As part of the Woodland and Open Spaces Project organised by Colchester Borough Council, the council have donated trees to areas all over Colchester to help save the planet and, naturally, we couldn’t wait to become part of the programme. 

The gardening team has now finished planting the 2,000 trees around the zoo, with the majority of them being planted near to our Edge of Africa area. Some of the species planted include Hazel (Corylus avellana), Willow (Salix), and Silver Birch (Betula Pendula), as well as shrubs such as Blackthorn (Prunus Spinosa), which is a great mix of varieties to fill the area and promote native wildlife visits in the area too. Although the trees currently stand a little over 2ft, over the next few years they will be monitored and nurtured by the team and will eventually grow much taller to be used as browse to feed some of our animals. 

The field has now been split into three sections and after around six to seven years, once the trees have grown and matured enough for the use as browse, the team will pollard the trees – a method of pruning that keeps trees and shrubs smaller than they would naturally grow – with each section used on a yearly rotation. This is to allow each block of trees the time to regrow in size and regain nutrients.

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