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The Big Tree Plant 2014/15

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Big Tree Plant logoThrough the Big Tree Plant, run by Defra and The Forestry Commission, The Conservation Volunteers are joining with Community Groups to establish community-led tree planting projects in areas that would benefit most - for example those with little greenery or  tree cover. Between Oct 2012 and March 2015, we are aiming to plant 150,000 trees across England. If your group has an idea for planting trees on an area of land used by your local community we should be able to help.

The trees must be planted in streets or in green places that are open to all to visit, or where local people will benefit from them. Whoever owns the land must give permission and support to the project, and there must be a plan to care for the trees after they are planted. The scheme does not fund the planting of hedgerows, but can include the planting of individual trees in hedges that will grow on to maturity.

We are very grateful to The Conservation Volunteers and the Big Tree Plant for supplying these trees and they will certainly enhance our local environment... and be appreciated by residents for many years to come.

Please note that the 2014/15 planting season will run from October 2014 until end of February 2015.

  • Whoever owns the land must give permission and support to the project
  • There must be a plan showing how trees will be cared for after they are planted
  • The scheme does not fund large areas of woodland planting (greater than 0.5 hectares/1.2 acres: approx 1125 trees.)  Details of recommended spacing here
  • The scheme does not fund the planting of hedgerows but can include the planting of individual trees in hedges that will grow on to maturity
  • Be run by a group or organisation that represents the interests of the local community and is non-governmental and non-profit distributing
  • We are particularly interested to see that your project fulfils the campaign aims of a) additional trees planted in neigbourhoods in Englandthat last in the long term; b) improvements in local quality of life in deprived areas with little greenery and tree cover; c) local community groups with the capacity to plant and lookafter their local trees
  • See Conditions

Once your scheme has been included in our programme, all the support you need should be found here. Scroll down for sections on The Lead Up, The Event and on Reporting Back. There is also a Resource Bank for you to use.

How you can get involved as a Community Group

Before you register your interest in the scheme you will need to ensure that your group has the permission of the landowner to plant trees on their land and that you will be able to look after the trees once they have been planted. You should also make sure that the trees are suitable for the site conditions and that wildlife, archaeology or other important features will not be damaged by the trees (information is held at Local Environmental Record Centres and Sites and Monuments Record Centres.)

The expression of interest will ask a few simple questions relating to your plans, as well as asking for the date of your planting and the number of trees you would like to plant. 

Hi TCV, It all worked! The trees arrived on Tuesday and I was very pleased to see the tubex guards and stakes rather than the bamboo canes and spirals I expected. We managed to dodge the showers and get all 250 planted this morning.

We will provide you with free trees and the support and advice you will need to ensure your planting helps deliver the aims of The Big Tree Plant both on the planting day and into the future.

You can access this support, along with tree planting guidance, generic risk assessments, landowner approval letters and aftercare plans via this website by following the link from Further Information at the end of this page.

Please register your interest (no details are saved until you click submit, and you will have the chance to discuss changes to your proposals before you order your trees), and we will send you a link to a webform to indicate which trees you want. We'll let you know when your plans are agreed, and you will then be able to order your trees.

If you are one of the lucky first 50 groups to register your event for 2014/15, we will give you a years free membership to the Community Network (worth £38). This will only be applied once you have returned a brief report on your Big Tree Plant event.

Many thanks to TCV for all the materials, the inspiration and the hard work in organising this scheme!

The Lead Up & Tree Ordering

So you have registered your interest in joining us in the Big Tree Plant, and your plans have been agreed - what comes next?

The first thing that you need to do is to ensure that you have the permission of the person who owns the land you are intending to plant your trees on.  You need a signed letter, or use the Landowner Permission form.  You also need to show how you are going to ensure that the trees survive their first few years.  There is a form for you to detail what aftercare you will put in place in the Resource Pack. You will be asked to confirm that these two are in place on the tree order form.

Why plant whips

When you have registered your interest, been included in the scheme and got the permission and aftercare sorted, you will need to order your trees.  All trees will be supplied as barerooted whips (30-60cm) and come delivered with tree guards and supports.  The list of free trees available can be found here.

It is important to visit the site that you are going to plant on, and carry out a Risk Assessment. This makes sure that you have not only thought about possible hazards on the day, and made arrangements to negate them, but that you have also thought about how you would deal with the problem if despite your best efforts something did occur. 

All the files that are linked in blue on this page and more are in the online Resource pack. Scroll down to find them.

If the event is open to your local community don't forget to publicise it.

The Event

Setting up the event

Before your event opens it is a good idea to have a team briefing to make sure you all know what you are expected to do.

  • Are there any health and safety considerations that need to be adhered to?
  • Confirm the plan for the day and highlight any changes?
  • How do you all keep in touch with each other on the day?
  • Are there any VIPs or media expected and who is responsible for meeting them?

Guiding people through your event

Whether the planting event is open to the public, or just to your own group, you should consider signposting to get people safely on site. Maybe consider having an allocated group member to welcome members of the public. You can tell them about your group and how people can get involved.  Don't forget to thank people as they leave, and give them the opportunity to get involved in the future.

Getting a record of the event

Getting high quality images of your events is a fantastic way to record their success and encourage more people to join in. However, it is often forgotten on the day. See if there is someone in your group who will act as a designated photographer on the day and perhaps agree the shots they will be taking.  Remember to always ask people for permission to take photographs on the day. We can provide a sample photographic consent form for you to adapt for your event.

Closing down your event

At the end of a busy day it can seem easier to throw everything in your car and sort it out tomorrow, but that is not the best plan.

  • Pack up any tools and equipment safely
  • Make sure that any trees that have not been planted are kept moist and sheltered, so that they can be planted another day.
  • 'Heel them in' if you need to store them for more than a few days.

Reporting Back

Your group had a great day, and all the trees are planted. Now you need to report back on the event. We would love to see photo's of the day.

Please report back to us at with details of your event.  Please include the name of the Group, and the location of the event, as well as how many trees were planted and how many people were at the event. You can also upload two or three photos and any media coverage.

Resource Pack

Here you will find the resources you need to be able to run your event and report back to The Conservation Volunteers



Landowner Permission Form

Please ensure that you have this form completed and signed before you order your free trees.

Aftercare Provision

Please ensure that you have completed this form detailing the provision you have made to care for your new trees, before you order your free trees.

Photo Permission

This can be used if you need to get permission to use someone's photograph in the media.

Tree Order Form

Please order your free trees via this link

Equality and Diversity form

This should be filled in and kept with your record of the event.

Risk Assessment

Use this to tailor a Risk Assessment to your event.

Tree Planting Guide

Welcome to the Big Tree Plant

Big Tree Plant Tool Kit

Click on the Link to take you through to the tool kit on the Defra Big Tree Plant site.

How to Plant Trees

A Leaflet in WORD format to download and use.

Tree Care

The Forestry Commission/Groundwork Guide

Urban Woodland Management Guide

A very useful guide to Tree Planting and Woodland Creation by the Woodland Trust.

Conditions of the Scheme The Conditions of the Big Tree Plant

Networking/Training Events

The Conservation Volunteers will be holding events where we will be providing training and advice on tree planting and aftercare.

If your Community Group would like to attend one of these, please contact us and we will put you in touch with the event nearest to you.

Current Planting Sites

The Conservation Volunteers are sometimes looking for opportunities to plant trees with our volunteers: if you are a landowner and would like the opportunity to get involved with the Big Tree Plant please contact us here.

The 2013/14 Season

People planting treesThe past planting season has been a very successful one this year. Weather has been better, compared with last year and over 74,000 trees have been planted around England.

A big thank you to all Community Groups, volunteers and staff involved in the Big Tree Plant this year. Your work has been pivotal to improve local areas around the country for the benefit of people and wildlife. We are getting ready for the next and last planting season and we hope that it will be another successful one.

The 2012/13 Season

Children planting treesThe Big Tree Plant went ahead last year despite the worst that the weather could throw at us. Many thanks to Community Groups across England, many of whom had to postpone and reorganise their tree planting events due to floods and heavy snow. Some people were understandably put off, but the more hardy volunteers came out in driving rain, snow and very occasionally sunshine to join in with the Big Tree Plant. All kinds of people and groups joined in, working together to improve their local area for the community and for wildlife.

It was bitterly cold but at least it didn't snow and we had eight stalwart and extremely warmly dressed volunteers who really enjoyed planting our trees...