Organisers of the Belle Vue Tree Planting Group have hailed a record turn-out from the local community who picked up shovels to help plant trees and 50 metres of hedgerow on the verge beside the Abbey Car Park in Shrewsbury.
The volunteers in the BVTPG have been responsible for improving numerous verges and forgotten corners around the town in recent years but on Saturday 27 March, the group had their biggest turn-out yet when they tackled the grass verge between the Abbey Car Park and Old Potts Way, a derelict parcel of land alongside one of the key entries to Shrewsbury town centre.
Organiser and arboriculturist Brendan Tuer said: “There was a need to plant this area, not only to improve this approach to town and screen a vast expanse of car park but also to help alleviate flooding associated with the Rea Brook. This project for a high profile location needed input from local landscape architects and Future Arbor Ltd, who devised a scheme we presented to councillors and authorities.”
Retiring local Abbey ward councillor Hannah Fraser, a qualified hydro-geology consultant, strongly supported the project. She and her family joined an army of 40 local residents and children to help the BVTPG team plant over 50 metres of new wildlife hedgerow in a morning, interspersed with an avenue of street trees including four London plane trees and two disease resistant elms.
Hannah Fraser said: “This is a fantastic grass roots community initiative which I was delighted to support. Trees and hedgerow are really important for reducing flood risks, improving air quality and helping wildlife in urban spaces. Thanks to a huge turn-out, this strip of land has been transformed in just a few hours.”
Brendan Tuer added: “The best ideas always start one night in the pub. In our case, we saw a need to help local authorities improve our grass verges and green spaces where budgets are constrained and in turn improve our public highways for the benefit of local communities and the travelling public.
“Street trees are an underfunded resource which have many often forgotten benefits and bring a little bit of nature into our urban landscape. The ‘Belle Vue Tree Planting Group’ (BVTPG) was established and set to work identifying key locations like Old Potts Way where ‘planting the right tree in the right place’ would benefit everyone.
“At a time when global warming is a real concern, street trees are a win-win because they improve the air that we breathe and reduce traffic pollution. Attractive green spaces improve community well-being, increase local property values, increase neighbourhood vigilance and help reduce crime.
“The Old Potts Way planting scheme would not have been possible without support and sponsorship from Shropshire Wildlife Trust, Future Arbor Ltd, the Environment Agency and Shropshire Council; with a special thank you for support from West Mercia Police. And Shrewsbury is all the better for it!”