Tree scheme helps dairy’s work to boost environment and biodiversity

The farmer-owned co-operative has received 75 trees from the free trees scheme

Young trees planted in a field

One of Britain’s most famous dairies – Leicestershire-based Long Clawson Dairy, producers of world-renowned Stilton – is playing a leading role in helping to plant more trees in the county.

The farmer-owned co-operative has received 75 trees from Leicestershire County Council’s free trees scheme, which are being planted across six of the farms supplying the milk for the world-famous cheese.

Ruth Grice from Long Clawson Dairy said: “It’s a great feeling to work in partnership with Leicestershire County Council’s trees team to increase wildlife habitats in our supplier farms. In total, 22 of our 33 supplier farms are based in Leicestershire, covering over 3,300 hectares.

“It would be great to see even more new trees being planted across them during the 2024/25 planting season.”

Many of Long Clawson Dairy’s farms lost a significant number of trees in the 1970s due to Dutch elm disease, and are now suffering losses caused by ash dieback. Planting new trees on the farms to make up for the losses and to increase tree numbers is now a big priority for the dairy co-operative over the coming years.

In 2022, Long Clawson Dairy recorded just over 3,500 trees across its 33 supplier farms in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. They also measured nearly 300 miles of hedgerows – enough to stretch from Long Clawson to Glasgow!

Ruth Grice said: “Thanks to Leicestershire County Council’s free tree scheme, we know we will be adding 75 trees to this total in 2024. Some of our farms have been taking part in the free tree scheme for over 10 years – with many of the original trees now providing perches for birds to sing from, branches to nest within and berries to feed from.”

The trees have been provided as part of the council’s ongoing free tree scheme for farmers and rural landowners across the county. Larger landscape trees are provided for replacing trees lost to disease or to enhance tree cover across farms and the rural landscape. A mixture of native trees suitable for a range of site conditions are offered by application.

The council also works in partnership with the Woodland Trust to offer free tree and hedgerow packs, which are designed to help renew and restore existing woodland and vegetation, as well as replacing trees affected by diseases such as ash dieback and encouraging more tree planting across the county.

They are available anyone who lives in Leicestershire with suitable areas of land to plant – including community groups, parish councils and schools, as well as landowners and farmers.

Each free tree pack includes 50 native trees – a mix of oak, wild cherry, crab apple, field maple and hazel, as well as tree guards and stakes. The hedgerow packs are made up of 250 native trees and shrubs, including a mix of hawthorn, hazel, field maple and oaks to plant at regular intervals along the hedgerow. Each hedgerow pack is enough to create a 50m-long hedge at five plants per metre.

For larger areas of land, the scheme will also help advise and support the creation of new areas of woodland planting over half a hectare through the MOREwoods scheme.

Last year, the county council gave away around 50,000 trees from this and other similar schemes.

Trees play a vital role in keeping our air clean, helping to prevent flooding and providing valuable habitats for local wildlife.

We have pledged to help plant 700,000 new trees – one for every person in the county – but we can’t do it by ourselves and need the support of individuals, groups, organisations and businesses.

We’re hugely grateful to the farmers of Long Clawson Dairy for their tree planting efforts – and look forward to continuing to work with them to plant many more trees in years to come.

Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for the environment and the green agenda

Applications for the free trees scheme are currently closed, but anyone with a suitable piece of land who would like to register their interest is asked to email forestry@leics.gov.uk

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