By Karen McKenzie
The Isle of Thanet Trees and Woods Initiative or ITTWI for short never rolled easily off the tongue, so the organisation has rebranded to Thanet Urban Forest or TUF for short. TUF was responsible for planting 1115 new trees across Thanet on eight sites over the last two years and continues to establish them with watering and maintenance. TUF is now looking to the future with another bid for funding from the Forestry Commission.
TUF now has a new website at https://thaneturbanforest.org/ and a new facebook page too. To complete the changes there are now four Board members. Peter Hasted (founding member of ITTWI) is now joined by Karen McKenzie (Tree Warden for Broadstairs & St Peters) Bo Beolens, notable writer and disability advocate, (FatBirder.com), and Sean Cheasley (Senior Account Director at Coupa Software).
The planting for this season finished in March and since then Peter Hasted has been busy each day watering and monitoring the establishment of the trees as they settle into their new homes during the unpredictable weather we’ve been having. Each tree needs 30 litres a week. That’s a colossal 33,450 litres across the forest each week.
Unsurprisingly, it’s too much for one man and a small water bowser. So TUF has contracted Ellis Agricultural Services working with Quex Estates to deliver water by the tanker load. You can usually see the tanker at Dane Park after 10am on a Friday as part of its round.
And because the workload has already doubled, TUF is recruiting now for a Thanet Urban Forester-Assistant Arborist, to help with the next stage of expansion.
Not content with just the trees already planted, TUF is now actively working on the next bid for funding from the Forestry Commission and is seeking new companies and organisations to partner with. New sites across Thanet have been identified in partnership with Thanet District Council and it is proposed to plant another 615 standard trees to add to Thanet Urban Forest.
Peter Hasted said: “It is such an exciting time for TUF as we go through the next stage of our journey. We are really excited and hopeful about the success of the next bid. We want to partner with more schools and community organisations to bring everyone together to make Thanet greener.
“The benefits of trees for physical and mental health are well known, but we also want to bring the community alongside to better understand the value of the natural world, through getting involved with planting, watering and looking out for the trees nearest to them. We’d love to hear from anyone who wants to help us.”
Commenting on the problems caused by the pandemic, Peter added: “Covid gave us so many challenges. In the previous planting season we were able to think and act on a big scale. At the Big Dig event at Dane Valley, we planted 286 standard trees in just one day. This year, we had to work with a small group of just 3 to 5 committed volunteers to plant all 438 trees. That was really hard work. And our plans for big watering events so far have also been scuppered.”
Despite the extension of Covid restrictions you can still show your TUF love by becoming a member on the website or joining the facebook group so that you will hear first hand whenever new watering or planting events can be safely planned.