Openreach and Ground Control Create New Lincolnshire Community Woodland

Photo: Tom Goodman (Ground Control) and Andrew Kirkby (Openreach)

To mark National Tree Planting Week (November 27, 2021 - December 5, 2021) Openreach and Ground Control have created ‘Open Wood’ at Old Bolingbroke in Lincolnshire, with 3,339 young trees planted by Openreach engineers and Ground Control, alongside volunteers from the Parish Council and local community.

The woodland-creation project – started in response to Old Bolingbroke and Hareby Parish Council’s plan to enhance the village’s King George V playing fields - aims to involve the local community in tackling the climate crisis, as well as increasing natural beauty and biodiversity in the district.

The site will not only provide a place for people to enjoy and wildlife to flourish but will help with the fight against the effects of climate change by purifying the air, locking up carbon and soaking up excess water which would otherwise contribute to flooding risk.

Twenty-three native tree species including, Alder, Black poplar, Cherry and Crack willow, now form a series of interconnecting copses planted over an acre of land, with a further 445m of linked hedgerow shrubs – with each sapling selected to maximise biodiversity and provide planting that is resilient to climate change and future pests and diseases.

The new woodland and hedgerow habitat will increase biodiversity and provide valuable wildlife corridors. Within 50 years the trees of ‘Open Wood’ will have sequestered approximately 160 tonnes C02e and the hedgerow 270 tonnes C02e, helping Old Bolingbroke to make a significant local contribution to the national Net Zero target.

Chris Bawtree, Woodland Creation Lead at Ground Control, said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Openreach and to support the community of Old Bolingbroke in this important project through our Evergreen environmental impact fund. This is another great example of how we are working in partnership with like-minded organisations to care for our environment and deliver positive impacts. As the COP26 Climate Change Conference has asserted, we all need to work together for our planet. By planting wooded areas, with carefully selected native species and hedgerow shrubs, we take practical action to help arrest the climate emergency and reverse nature’s decline.”

Andrew Kirkby, Openreach’s Senior Manager for Sustainability, said: “Our engineers are delighted to be volunteering their time to help plant thousands of trees to create this special space. As a company, we’re only too aware of our environmental responsibility, and we’re making giant strides in reducing our carbon emissions. With 28,000 Openreach vans – the second largest commercial fleet in the UK - on the road, we’re really focussed on switching to electric vehicles and reaching zero emissions by 2030. It was great to bring some of the new fleet to Old Bolingbroke to show the local community.”

Victoria Atkins, MP for Louth and Horncastle, said: “This is great news to see such a team effort between Openreach and local community groups, taking place in my constituency. I’m sure people living nearby will enjoy this space for many years to come and everyone is no doubt incredibly grateful for the hard work of those involved, particularly the volunteers.”

The Lincolnshire project is being funded by The Evergreen Fund, Ground Control’s £5 million Impact Venture Fund dedicated to environmental initiatives and carbon sequestration. Creation of the woodland (ecological survey, species selection, design, stock procurement, project planning and delivery) has been carried out in a collaboration between the public and private sectors, led by Openreach and Ground Control, with support from Old Bolingbroke Parish Council.

Openreach is the UK’s largest broadband network – used by customers of hundreds of companies including BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen. More than 1,600 of its engineers live and work in the East Midlands, many of them responsible for building a new Ultrafast Full Fibre broadband network, which has now reached more than 30,000 premises across Lincolnshire and 300,000 across the East Midlands.

Earlier this month, both Grantham and Lincoln were announced as the latest places in the county to benefit from Openreach’s Ultrafast Full Fibre build.

All Openreach employees are able to volunteer three days a year for good causes.

Further Information:

Tree Schedule - Alder, Black poplar, Cherry, Crack willow, Dog rose, Dogwood, Downy birch, Elder, Field maple, Goat willow, Guelder rose, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Hornbeam, Lime, Oak, Pine, Rowan, Silver birch, Spindle, Wayfaring tree and White willow.