No Land? Where to Plant.

One challenge many people face, is where to plant things if we don’t have any land. There are a number of ways round this issue. Some people do it guerilla style and plant on other people’s land without permission. However, ideally it is best to get the permission of the owner, or the custodian of the land, before planting anything. It’s no use putting lots of seeds into a bit of land only to find later that it has been covered over with building rubble (or goodness knows what), has been planted out with something else, or the local ground cover has been burned away as part of the land management.

If you want to plant a forest you could think of it as a “patchwork forest”. Planting out different places and over a wide area, a little bit here and little bit there. You can also plant in such a way as to add variety to an existing situation. There may already be a good number of trees in an area, but very little variety owing to human intervention. This is a wonderful opportunity to add variety.  This situation might not be so much about planting large numbers of trees, but more about adding a few trees (possibly of a few different types) so that the increased variety will allow the area to support to a wider range of wildlife. You can look for gaps at the edges, or where trees have fallen over, and plant there.

You can also look for situations where there are non-native species of trees have been planted and plant some native species among them.

Some options of places to plant:

Edges of existing forested areas; edges of golf courses, neglected edges or corners of fields, road verges (be careful of traffic and don’t plant where grass cutting will prevent things from growing), neglected, abandoned, or derelict areas. and community owned land. Possibly you can co-operate with whoever manages your local park. If planting near a road be careful not to plant where the trees will hide the view of the road ahead. Also best not to plant in a way which will eventually hide the view currently enjoyed by houses nearby.

In some places it is possible to form a community group and get land from a local council, or funding to buy out a local land owner, for a community forest project.

You could also look to see if there are any community forest groups you could contact outside your area.

Local councils may have land which they would be willing to let you plant on, or at least plant around the edges to leave it open for future use.

Land owners, if approached might really like the idea. If you plant out a wide variety of species then it is less likely the future generations, who end up owning that land, will sell the trees there as a crop for profit. Forming a local group and getting a mention in your local paper may turn up some landowners who would be happy to have more trees on their land.

It is not all about trees. Sometimes planting bushes, or other plants, in an area may be more appropriate than planting trees. It all depends which is indigenous to that area and what the local wildlife need. Some areas have lots of mature trees, but very little under story (and little in the way of young trees emerging). There is little cover for the local wildlife. Sometimes this is caused by people walking all over the area and not sticking to the paths. You can sometimes create natural barriers by planting seeds of thorny bushes along the path edges to discourage people leaving the paths at those section. This will help create some space for the under story, and also the local animal population, to recover.

With a little bit of imagination and a little bit of determination, the chances are that you will find places where you can plant. Start where you can and see where it goes. Eventually you may well get to plant a forest – even if it is a patchwork forest.

-William Martin