17 December 2021

Green-fingered volunteers and staff from Cornwall Wildlife Trust and South West Lakes have planted more than 500 trees to benefit water and wildlife in Cornwall.

Since 2015, we've been working together on an exciting conservation project around College and Argal reservoirs near Penryn, as part of South West Water’s award-winning catchment management programme, Upstream Thinking.

The project has two aims:

Farm advisors, ecologists and water quality scientists from Cornwall Wildlife Trust work with landowners in Upstream Thinking catchments to help them improve farm practices with the goal of encouraging clean water by reducing the risk of soil, nutrients and pesticides entering rivers and streams.

Volunteer groups from South West Lakes visit different sites around the catchment to undertake conservation and habitat management tasks to improve the sites for wildlife. 

The tree planting took place on farmland on the edge of Argal reservoir. Cornwall Wildlife Trust has been working with the farmer through the Upstream Thinking project for over five years.  The farmer wanted to enhance the environment for wildlife on his farm and the new trees will also provide a good buffer to slow down and filter the water before it reaches Argal reservoir, which is an important drinking water source.

Staff were joined by around 20 volunteers from both charities to plant a mix of 575 native broad-leafed trees.

Liz Cox, Ecologist for Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said: “We’ve been working with Jonathan James from Churchtown Farm for over five years through Upstream Thinking, and were delighted when he asked us for our advice to help plant some trees on his land. We planted a whole range of native species including oak, crab apple, hawthorn and downy birch. These trees are going to provide some great new habitat for wildlife, but that’s not all they’ll do, as they grow up, they’ll also capture carbon and help to buffer the reservoir too. 

“I want to say a huge thank you to all our fantastic volunteers who worked tirelessly through the rain to get the trees in. What a huge achievement, and what a great feeling to all come together to do something great for nature!”

Jeremy Fielden, South West Lakes’ Environment and Engagement Ranger, said: “Since 2015, our Upstream Thinking volunteers have worked on a variety of tasks including scrub clearance, bracken management, invasive species removal and building habitat boxes. Volunteers of all ages, abilities and background have really enjoyed being part of this project, with the opportunity to visit different sites and learn new skills.”

Dr David Smith, South West Water’s Upstream Thinking and Biodiversity Team Manager, said: “Trees bring both environmental and wellbeing benefits. They help combat climate change, improve water quality, reduce flooding, enhance biodiversity and add to the natural beauty of our region. Back in 2019, we announced ambitious plans to plant at least 100,000 trees by 2030, and after reaching that target nearly a decade early we now aim to plant 250,000 trees by 2025.

“We take our commitment both to the planet and to the local environment very seriously and look forward to working in partnership to see many more trees in the South West of England in the years ahead.”

For more information about the Upstream Thinking project in Cornwall, please visit www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/upstreamthinking

About us 

We believe engaging with the natural environment enables people to grow. Our reservoirs and lakes are home to many wonderful animals and boast important habitats and built historic sites. We pride ourselves on enabling people of all abilities to enjoy these special locations by providing access both on and off the water. It’s your outdoors – come and explore.