Isle of Thanet Trees and Woods Initiative: Reaching a 1192 new tree milestone and future plans

Tree planting effort Photo by Luke Evans

Eighteen months ago Thanet teacher Luke Evans had a vision for Thanet: greener open spaces, increased bio-diversity and more trees.

He gained the help of Colourful Margate, Thanet Community Forest School, Sunken Garden Society, local councillors and Thanet District Council and then applied for a Forestry Commission Urban Tree Challenge grant for £500,000, little believing he would get it.

But the bid was successful and after recruiting Peter Hasted, from the SGS, the Isle of Thanet Trees and Woods Initiative (ITTWI), was born on  January 11, 2020.

The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF) awards payments once the work is done and money has already been spent on planting.  But ITTWI had a problem.  How to buy the trees and all the kit to start with?  Thanet Community Forest School could subsidise some of it but not all.

Grants and donations were needed to bridge the gap. Manston Airport owners RiverOak Strategic Partners (RSP)  agreed to help fund the buying of trees for Thanet. They initially donated £20,000, with the promise of more money later.

The first tree was planted in Dane Park with the help of volunteers and then 99 more were planted.

Dane Valley Green Photo ITTWI

The next phase of planting was 286 trees in one day at Dane Valley Green, with  work undertaken by Peter and more than 300 volunteers from the community.

Next came a further 362 trees at the Thanet Community Forest School and 6 trees at the Sunken Garden in Westgate.

In Spring and Summer 2020 the community out and about again, in a covid-secure manner, watering the trees with the help of Quex Estates, which helped out with a water tanker for Dane Valley Green and Dane Park.

The new planting projects for Autumn/Winter 2020/21 were disrupted by the latest round of covid restrictions and volunteers were no longer allowed to help. However, since then, Peter and a small team including Tree Warden for Broadstairs & St Peters Karen McKenzie, have managed to plant 363 more trees. Tivoli and Hartsdown Park in Margate now has 180 new trees, there are another 50 at Westover Gardens and 50 at George V Avenue. In total, by the end of just over its first year, Thanet has benefitted from the planting of 1192 new trees with  68 trees for the Urban Tree Challenge Fund to follow.

ITTWI continues to negotiate with many organisations to continue ‘planting trees for our future’.

Pete Hasted Photo Jamie Horton

A further donation of £15,000 has been received  from RSP, towards the payment for more trees, with the promise of more in the future. Further grants, sponsors and donations will continue to be vital for the project to continue its life beyond the end of the initial grant from the Forestry Commission. The aim is to create and stimulate interest from people of all ages and encourage them to become “champions of trees and wildlife” throughout Thanet.

George V planting Photo ITTWI

With a new Board focused on training, education and employment, it is hoped that primary and secondary schools will get involved  so that future generations will be keen to appreciate, possibly even own and maintain, the trees in their area.

Planting from seed is one way of getting youngsters to appreciate how things grow and mature.

If you or your school would be interested in any aspects of the seed growing and/or tree planting projects, would like to donate, or if you are a local company that can see the benefit of linking to ITTWI please contact [email protected].  You can also find ITTWI on FaceBook @Isle of Thanet Trees & Woods Initiative.


  1. The involvement of RSP is ironic as they want to open a filthy polluting cargo hub at Manston. The measly token payments towards trees will make no difference to our environment if they get their way. A whole forest would not take the pollutants from the air in Thanet. And if like the image shows, the ITTWI is supporting RSP by having talks to the public with their flags flying next to them then shame on the group for that. Remove your allegiance to RSP and the rubbish promises they give. The two remits do not go together.
    WE do need trees in Thanet, thousands of them as developers are ripping them out then applying for planning permission afterwards so no penalties are accrued. TDC need to get a grip on this loophole and make it more difficult for mature trees to be felled. If authorities abroad can write planning regulations to save trees when developing land than they could do it here. Build around the trees instead of ripping them all out and putting saplings in as an afterthought which will take 20 years for them to mature. Our wildlife needs trees and hedgerows desperately in Thanet as we are in the bottom 4% of tree habitat in the UK. That is extremely poor for an area in the Garden of England.

    • Personally I welcome a cargo hub bringing with it jobs and wealth to Thanet, but to be more specific about polluting aircraft. In he near future aircraft engines like car engines will cause less environmental pollution. Soon to be powered by Hydrogen [or H2 componds] the jet exhaust will be hot air and water. This technology will be used for powering ships, large machines and electrical power generation. Regarding donations from RSP I am pleased that RSP respect the environment and want to make a free contribution. How many other Thanet companies have made a contribution to tree planting?

      • “Hot air” just about sums it up. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever of hydrogen powered aircraft in the near ir medium term.
        There are two major problems: how to produce the hydrogen (currently a by-product of the petroleum industry, or electrolysis);
        How to store the hydrogen safely (it is an extremely explosive gas, and because it is so light, leaks very easily)
        As to RiverJoke: how on Earth can they with one hand promise £100,000 towards trees (but only coughed up £35k) on the one hand, and facilitate the expansion of the most polluting form of transport on the planet on the other?

      • If RSP respected the environment they wouldn’t be trying to get permission for a freight airport anywhere, let alone next to a town of 40,000 people.

    • KR. Give it a rest for heaven’s sake. Any opportunity to whinge yet again from your favourite soap box. Tiresome.

  2. RSP widely trumpeted that they had given £100,000 to the tree planting in 2019 – now we see that this was untrue. How many more lies will they tell.
    This is nothing but greenwashing and will in no way compensate for the levels of pollution they will bring to Thanet with their giant cargo hub flying freight overhead every 12 minutes and with the hundreds of HGVs needed each day to load and unload the cargo.
    Trees are precious every one of them but we should not be reliant on dirty conscience money to fund it.

  3. Please can we have an avenue of suitable tree’s along either side of the dual carriageway and central reservation from St Nicholas Roundabout through to Birchington.

  4. For an aviation company attempting to open a huge cargo hub over Ramsgate to fund a few trees is a monstrous hypocrisy. Greenwashing with peanuts.

    Take your empty gestures and rewild pour brownfield site, then we’ll thank you. I also remember the 100k hot air.

  5. Funny how RSP coughed up another £15k after being slagged off on ITTWI’s FB page (deleted by the author) and it became public knowledge they had received £8.5m feom the DFT. It’s just a drop in the ocean given the amount of trees needed to offset the greenhouse gases produced by the amount of flights RSP are claiming. It needs something like 1.7 million trees to be planted EVERY YEAR to counter the pollution from Manston. It’s just a PR stunt and a cheap one at that.

  6. Simple, it would be a whole lot cleaner for the environment than what RSP plan for us that’s for sure. Nobody likes new homes being built by the thousands but that is what is happening when you keep increasing the population. People need to live somewhere.

    Ton, have you got anything productive to say then?

  7. Such an excellent project with amazingly hard working individuals, especially Peter Hasted and Karen McKenzie. The more people who get involved with this initiative the better.
    Trees increase our wellbeing and happiness as well as boosting biodiversity, so get planting everyone!

  8. A couple of trees could be planted in Osbourne Road the Seafield Road end,where there was a flower bed, but isnow grassed over.A small token to the total, but all helps.

  9. So true the comments about rsp and the manston white elephant, plant a few trees and the gullible in thanet will think we are good guys and accept we can pollute with our dirty planes both the air and noise. Go away rsp the people of thanet dont want you. A small minority of people are accepting not the rest of us

  10. As others have said seems, despite their good work it all smacks of greenwashing for RSP. It would have been better for them to refuse the money and get it from elsewhere.

    The photo above with the slogan “planting trees for the future” next to an advert for a cargo hub is a bit much.

  11. Whinge when RSP support local environmental efforts, will you also Whinge when the local unemployment levels go down when the jobs RSP will be delivering, Whinge when local business profit from engineering to catering companies (list too long) as RSP and the airport starts, Whinge when youngsters in education see the potential of a good career instead of poorly paid seasonal jobs. so my Whinge is, what the hell are you doing here.????????????????????????????

    • I hope there will never be an airport at Manston, especially thee type that RSP say they want. I hope there will be a lot of new clean industries on the port. I hope the ex-airport site can be used for housing, industry and green space, which SHP’s plans had before they were stymied by the previous council.

      That’s the sort of stuff I want. I wonder if anyone else wants that sort of stuff.

  12. Has anybody considered the cost per tree in this scheme? More than half a million pounds has been spent on, I found figures, 1200 trees. That is £416 per tree. Rather a lot considering a true of the size being planted is around £150. Is there something going on we should know more about?

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