Final trees planted to conclude Mourier Valley restoration

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IT has taken three years, small armies of volunteers, £40,000 and the expertise and tender loving care of the National Trust for Jersey’s Lands Team and Jersey Trees for Life, but the planting phase of the Mourier Valley reforestation project has now officially completed, after representatives of the trust, Trees for Life and joint sponsors Jersey Electricity and Jersey Water symbolically planted the last of almost 4,300 trees that have been planted on valley slopes since 2019.

An additional 23.5 vergées (4.2 hectares) that adjoin existing ancient woodland at the bottom of the valley are now covered with 13 mainly native species, including 1,000 common oak, ash, sweet chestnut, hazel, wild cherry, bird cherry, silver birch, larch and sallow, selected to suit the exposed conditions, alongside rowan, Scots pine, Monterey pine and black line to provide additional resources for birds and local wildlife.

It has been the largest ever planting project the National Trust and Trees for Life have undertaken. As well as helping to increase biodiversity and protect wildlife, the site will aid carbon sequestration in the longer term as Jersey seeks to become net-zero by 2050.

The work has been made possible by £40,000 of joint funding from Jersey Electricity and Jersey Water and hundreds of individual volunteers and those from charities and corporates, including both utilities, the Arts Centre, Clarivate, Zedra Group, Standard Bank, Fiduchi, Acorn, JYS Prince’s Trust and Jersey Conservation Volunteers.

Trust lands manager Jon Parkes, who has overseen the whole project, said: ‘We are also hugely grateful to all of our members, supporters and the public who have grown trees from local seeds and kindly donated them to the project. Trees grown from successful local provenance have genes that have endured generations of natural selection under the Island’s unique habitats and weather conditions. A number of these trees were not available from UK-based nurseries because of importation bans due to spreadable diseases.’

Trust chief executive Charles Alluto said: ‘Unfortunately, woodland cover is sparse in Jersey. In 2010, tree cover was estimated at 7% compared with 12% in the UK and 28% in France. Many trees were felled during the Occupation and, when combined with the impact of Dutch Elm diseases and the Great Storm, this has led to a sparsity of mature woodland cover in the Island which, in turn, has an impact upon our biodiversity.

‘The trust acquired 40 vergées of arable land on the top of the eastern slopes of Mourier Valley in 2009 and planted over 8,000 hedging plants. In 2019 we had planned to plant 1,000 trees on the eastern edge of the valley to help restore the once wooded valley sides. The funding from Jersey Electricity and Jersey Water, as well as our partnership with Trees for Life, took this restoration programme to a whole new level while providing an important, tangible carbon-offsetting focal point for Islanders now and for years into the future.’

Trees for Life chairman Philp Taylor said: ‘We are extremely proud to have been involved in this wonderful project in partnership with the National Trust. We have demonstrated the impact that we can all have on our environment when organisations come together for the benefit of future generations.

‘The work does not stop here. This is just the start. There will be much maintenance and tree protection work to do over the coming years to ensure that this project fulfils its potential and delivers for the people of Jersey. A big thank you to Jersey Water, Jersey Electricity, our partners, the National Trust and, of course, all our wonderful volunteers and supporters.’

Jersey Electricity chief executive Chris Ambler said: ‘We are fully supportive of the government’s carbon reduction aspirations for the Island and believe we can achieve so much if we work together as this project has shown. Now, with a net-zero target to aim for, we believe local sequestration and restoration projects like this will have an important role to play in future and are more beneficial to the Island and its economy than foreign carbon offsets which are so difficult to trace.’

Jersey Water chief executive Helier Smith added: ‘Jersey Water has been delighted to work with the National Trust for Jersey, Jersey Trees for Life and Jersey Electricity to help return the beautiful Le Mourier Valley and coastal headland to the woodland that it once was, securing improvements in biodiversity and helping Jersey on its journey to carbon neutrality.

‘This important project is a perfect example of organisations working together to address the important climate change issues that affect us all and being able to do so at a scale that is a first for Jersey. I’d like to thank everyone who has made it possible.’

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